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  • Autumn Quiles, LCSW

World Suicide Prevention Day

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. I have worked with hundreds of kids who have wanted to kill themselves. The concept that a human being, especially a child, would want to die is appalling to most of us. This why researchers have studied youth suicide so extensively.

Worldwide, there is one death by suicide every 40 seconds. The number of kids going to the ER because of suicidal thoughts doubled between 2005 and 2017. The American Association of Suicidology published facts showing that an attempt is made every 27 seconds. Statistics in our own backyard, Palm Beach County, show that 48 more people killed themselves in 2018 than in 2017 (247 people in total). Research shows that during the 2017-2018 year, more than 36,000 children were admitted for involuntary hospitalization (under the Baker Act) because they wanted to kill themselves or others- 3,000 more children than the 2016-2017 year.

Every bit of research we have right now shows that more and more of our kids- our kids here, in Palm Beach County- feel that attempting to kill themselves is the only option out of their unhappiness. We must Do Better.

Here in Palm Beach County there are a few resources for families who have kids thinking of harming themselves. Calling our local 211 Helpline (just dial "211") will connect you with operators 24/7 who can send you in the direction for local, immediate help. Additionally, the National Alliance on Mental Illnesss (NAMI) has a helpline, (800) 950-NAMI (6264). We also have two Mobile Crisis Teams in this county- these are teams of trained professionals (many of whom I respect immensely) who can come to you, during a crisis, to help stabilize and intervene with your child. The Jerome Golden Center's 24/7 number is 561-383-5777 and the number for South County Mental Health is 561-495-0522. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255.

In my experience, when a child or teen has said that they want to die, they mean it. These words are not a slip-of-the-tongue and they are not mimicking something they saw (regardless of whether or not they have a developmental disability). Even if they "take it back" the deep sadness that led them to that Awful Place will fester and they may consider suicide again. I am highly skilled when it comes to helping kids with this degree of sadness. I can help them out of the Awful Place. If your child has this kind of sadness, please call me. Together, we can Do Better and get them back to happiness again.

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