Suicidality and the School Calendar

Oct 4, 2023 | Uncategorized

This article includes the topic of suicide.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call, text, or chat with the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988, or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741.

October appears to be a dangerous month for teenage students. A new study, published in July in JAMA Network Open, found that teenage suicide rates peaked in the months of April and October and that intervention during these months could help save lives.

The study’s findings indicate “the presence of seasonal patterns and an observed unexpected decrease in suicidality among children and adolescents after COVID-19–related school closures in March 2020, which suggests a potential association between suicidality and the school calendar,” wrote authors Kim, Krause, and Lane. “Seasonal patterns in suicidality should interest clinicians and US public health officials, as intervention efforts can benefit by targeting periods of heightened risk. There are several hypotheses focused on exogenous variables associated with seasonal suicidality patterns, including temperature changes, circadian rhythms, sunlight exposure, geographic latitude, and interactions with gender, substance use, and mental health status.”

The Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC) provides some tips on how to cope with stress—including back-to-school anxiety— in a healthy way that may help people to become more resilient. 

  • Take breaks from news and social media: It’s good to be informed, but constant discouraging information can be upsetting.
  • Take care of your body: Eat healthy foods, go to bed a regular hours, avoid drugs and alcohol, move more and sit less, take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate.
  • Make time to unwind: Take a break from your routine to do activities you enjoy.
  • Connect with others: Talk with people you trust about your concerns and feelings.
  • Connect with your community- or faith-based organizations. 

Connecting with others in your community can be an especially powerful defense against depression and suicidality. The CDC recommends devoting time and attention to developing and maintaining relationships as well as creating a larger and more diverse social network. Providing support to others can give them much-needed help, and make you feel good too!

Technology should not distract you from engaging with other people. Pay attention to the ways it might make you feel worse about yourself or others. Use technology like social media platforms in ways that are positive.

Traumatic life changes such as new health issues, the divorce of the parents, or the loss of a loved one can lead to disconnection. In times of crisis, it is important to reach out to sources of support to help you through such tough times, even though it can be hard to ask for help sometimes. Members of your family or community, or health care providers can be sources of support. 

The national Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is always there for you. Last year, the previous 10-digit number to call became 988. The easy-to-remember lifeline was created to help people dealing with issues such as depression, substance misuse, and suicidal ideation get immediate help and be guided to additional resources. 

The Lifeline addresses tremendous needs: Texts to the lifeline have increased dramatically and average wait times plummeted from 2 minutes 39 seconds to 41 seconds since the introduction of 988.

“Since [its] launch in July 2022 through May 2023, 988 has received almost five million contacts, of which nearly one million are from the Veteran’s Crisis Line—a part of 988—with the rest consisting of 2.6 million calls, over 740,000 chats, and more than 600,000 texts,” reported Heather Saunders for KFF in July. “Comparing the most recent Lifeline performance data available from May 2023 to a year prior, the combined number of calls, texts, and chats increased by 33 percent.” 

If your child is struggling this October, do not hesitate to reach out and seek help. Anxiety, depression, and suicidality may induce an urge to self-medicate emotional anguish with drugs and alcohol. Many teenagers engaging in substance misuse eventually require professional treatment or else risk developing a full-blown addiction and other serious health problems. 

Avanti Behavioral Health recently launched an intensive outpatient program (IOP) for clients between the ages of 13 and 18, located in the Denver Tech Center. The program is designed to provide adolescents with the support they need to address their substance use and mental health concerns. 

The IOP provides comprehensive, holistic, family-centered, and trauma-informed care for your teen. A thorough clinical assessment is a crucial step in the treatment process at Avanti. It is a free evaluation that aims to identify any misdiagnosed or undiagnosed conditions that may be affecting the well-being of your child. 

We hope your child thrives in the new school year but if they need additional help, we encourage you to call us at (720) 753-4030 for more information about our IOP and family programming. 

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