Our opinion: Putting spotlight on mental health

As we noted on Page 1 of Saturday’s edition, September is recognized nationally as Suicide Prevention Month.

According to CDC data nearly 46,000 Americans died by suicide in 2020 — but more than 1.2 attempted suicide. Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among people ages 10 to 14 and the third-leading cause of death among people between the ages 15 and 24 in the United States.

Six billboards have been placed throughout Warren County featuring artwork created by Karson Lyon and Kendra McBride from Sheffield High School, Leah Carpenter, Samantha Wilhelm and Michael Carnahan from Youngsville High School and Taylor Napolitan, who graduated last year from Eisenhower High School.

It’s appropriate that the work of our high school artists is featured, because the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill reports suicide is the second-leading cause of death among people age 15 to 24 in the United States.

Nearly 20 percent of high school students report serious thoughts of suicide and 9 percent have made an attempt to take their own lives.

“It is important to remind those struggling with mental health issues and suicidal thoughts to recognize their struggles, ask for help and remind them that they aren’t alone,” Kari Swanson, CORE Founder and Warren County Jail mental health specialist told the Times Observer’s Brian Ferry. “It is also important to educate those that aren’t struggling with mental health issues and/or suicidal thoughts to know how to approach this topic, what to look for and how to get someone help.”

Anyone who needs help during a mental health emergency can call 988. The toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is also available 24/7 at (800) 273-TALK (8255).

Many of us wouldn’t think of missing a yearly check-up with our primary care doctor. September’s commemoration of Suicide Prevention Month can serve a similar purpose for our mental health and the mental health of those we care about.


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