September is suicide awareness month and according to the Michigan Department of Education, suicide was the tenth leading cause of death in both Michigan and the nation in 2019.
It was the second leading cause of death in adolescents.
Leaders from nonprofits around the state say the pandemic has made the problem worse, and now they want teachers and parents to know ways to address suicidal thoughts in youth.
“I don’t know anybody who hasn’t been impacted by adolescent suicide, or suicide in general.”
Emily Sicilia is a professional learning services manager for a nonprofit called Michigan Virtual, a nonprofit that provides online resources to Michigan students. They are partnered with the Michigan Elementary and Middle School Principal’s Association.
Her cousin died by suicide. That’s why she’s made it part of her mission to spread awareness about the topic.
“The more we can surround our students, our kids, and wrap them in that somebody notices, somebody’s picking up on it, somebody cares about you,” she said.
“Suicide is actually the second leading cause of death for youth ages 10 to 24 in Michigan,” said Pam Yager of Blue Cross Blue Shield Michigan.
During the pandemic, the situation got worse.
According to Michigan Virtual, 25% of high school students knew of someone with suicidal thoughts.
That’s why Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan partnered with Michigan Virtual to add new online resources that address adolescent suicide
“I think this is one of the ways we are prioritizing this issue in identifying resources, tools for teachers and parents, and community leaders to help them address it,” said Yager.
The tools are free and come in a series of 5 online courses.
Sicilia and Yager both hope these free online resources will help parents and teachers identify mental health problems and address them properly.
“It’s something we as a state need to take seriously and look at ways we can address it,” said Yager.