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FOR RELEASE: July 29, 2003
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
405/271-5601

Youth Suicide Prevention Training To Be Available for Communities

Suicide is the third leading cause of death for young people ages 15 to 24, with males under age 25 more likely to commit suicide than their female counterparts. The Oklahoma County Youth Suicide Prevention Coalition, in cooperation with the Suicide Prevention Council, conducts training for school personnel, students, and social service organizations in the community to help them recognize the warning signs of suicide. Future training will be available based upon demand, according to health officials at the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH). The health department is one of the coalition’s working partners.

The purpose of the training is to help participants develop local action plans for addressing youth suicide at the community level. They receive information on suicide statistics, warning signs, myths and facts, then follow up with group work to get the community involved in the issue. The Oklahoma County Youth Suicide Prevention Coalition, Teenline Helpline and CONTACT Crisis Helpline conducted the first training earlier this month in Oklahoma City.

“One of our goals is to help local communities begin dialogue about youth suicides and form local networks, partners and action plans so that people will be trained on how to respond and provide assistance. We show local community organizations and schools how to develop policies and networks to help save lives,” said Suicide Prevention Council Chairman James Allen.

Risk factors for suicide involve biological, psychosocial, environmental and socio-cultural factors.

Some of the main risk factors are:

  • Mental disorders, especially mood disorders,
  • Alcohol or other substance abuse,
  • Poor interpersonal problem-solving ability,
  • Poor coping skills,
  • Impulsive or aggressive tendencies,
  • Legal or disciplinary problems,
  • History of trauma or abuse,
  • Previous suicide attempt,
  • Family history of suicide,
  • Difficulty in school or neither working or in school,
  • Relational or social loss,
  • Lack of social support and sense of isolation, and
  • Certain cultural and religious beliefs.

Health care experts say some of the common warning signs of suicide include:

  • Change in eating and sleeping habits,
  • Withdrawal from friends, family and activities,
  • Violent actions, rebellious behavior or running away,
  • Drug and alcohol use,
  • Unusual neglect of personal appearance,
  • Marked personality change,
  • Persistent boredom,
  • Frequent complaints about physical symptoms,
  • Loss of interest in pleasurable activities,
  • Not tolerating prizes or awards,
  • Complaints about being a bad person or rotten inside,
  • Giving verbal hints that “I won’t be a problem for you much longer,” “nothing matters,” “it’s no use,” or “I won’t see you again,”
  • Putting one’s affairs in order and giving away prize possessions, and
  • Becoming suddenly cheerful after a period of depression.

Partner organizations involved in the suicide prevention training efforts are Teenline, Norman Alcohol Intervention Center, Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, Oklahoma City/County Health Department, State Department of Education, CONTACT, OSDH Maternal and Child Health Service, and the OSDH Family Health Services.

For more information about suicide prevention training, contact the OSDH, Child and Adolescent Health Division, Maternal and Child Health Service at 405/271-4471.

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