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Teen Suicide Prevention in Colorado: How can we get more involved?

Introduction Video 

What is Brought to Reality, or BTR? 

https://broughttoreality.com/

BTR is a local organization created by Nick Bales that is now run by his mother, Maria Bales. The goal of BTR is to raise awareness about mental health and give local teens a platform that provides comfort and reassurance in hard times. Not only does BTR spread positive messages to my Denver community, but it also is a clothing brand that further spreads their message. 10% of the profits go to mental health efforts. I wanted to share this amazing message below with everyone because the Bale’s family is truly an inspiration to me and everybody in my community. 

 

“Through Brought to Reality, I want to bring awareness to teen mental health. My goal is to encourage my peers to be true to themselves, to stay grounded in reality, and to not numb themselves when times get tough. I also want to encourage compassion, because I know that there is always someone going through a harder situation than I am, and we should all help each other get through the difficult times. Most importantly, I’d like to motivate others to pursue their dreams, like how I’m pursuing BTR. Because one small idea can lead in to a larger message. My message is that life is precious; and I want to live every day to the fullest by being present, being myself, and following my dreams.”

Nick Bales

Overall Information and Statistics

Source

Since 2016, Colorado has had the highest increase of teen suicide in the United States. From 2016 to 2019, teen suicide in  risen from 12.9 to 20.4 deaths per 100,000 adolescents ages 15-19, that is a 58% increase. 

The Problem & Steps Toward Change  

Causes of death in Colorado teens
5280.com Denver’s Mile High Magazine

“This big jump in the teen suicide rate clearly shows we need to be doing more as a state to make sure kids have the mental health care they need.”

Sarah Hughes, vice president of research initiatives for the Colorado Children’s Campaign.

In Colorado, and places all around the world, mental health and suicide are clouded by negative stigmas. Teens are afraid to reach out for help in fear that they will be judged or viewed differently by their community. There needs to be more organizations like BTR who promote community outreach to those who may be considering suicide. Suicide is a hard subject to talk about, but this national problem can be helped by every person who reads this presentation. Start a conversation. It is our job in our local towns and cities to promote comfortable discussions about suicide and how we can provide more resources to those in need. One conversation at a time. Soon, little increments of change will lead to monumental outcomes. 

A Positive Note…Teens Helping Teens 

Source

https://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/7everyday-hero/7everyday-hero-kaylee-howell-develops-program-that-aims-to-prevent-teen-suicide

Click this link to see how these Colorado teens are speaking out and inciting change their community everyday….

 

“Just to save one life because that means we’ve accomplished something.”

Tobi Howell, member of Five to Thrive Teen Health

Warning Signs

  • Noticeable changes in eating or sleeping habits

  • Unexplained or unusually severe, violent, or rebellious behavior

  • Withdrawal from family or friends

  • Sexual promiscuity, truancy, and vandalism

  • Drastic personality change

  • Agitation, restlessness, distress, or panicky behavior

  • Talking or writing about committing suicide, even jokingly

  • Giving away prized possessions

  • Doing worse in school

Note: Every teen is different, but these are considered to some of the most common warning signs from mental heath professionals

Common Risk Factors 

  • Poor social relationships
  • Lack of family support
  • Physical or sexual abuse
  • Substance and alcohol misuse
  • Health issues
  • Bullying
  • Depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders.
  • Prior suicide attempt(s)
  • Knowing someone who died by suicide, particularly a family member.

How You Can Help 

“Offer help and listen. Don’t ignore the problem. What you’ve noticed may be the teen’s way of crying out for help. Offer support, understanding and compassion. Talk about feelings and the behaviors you have seen that cause you to feel concerned. You don’t need to solve the problem or give advice. Sometimes just caring and listening, and being nonjudgmental, gives all the understanding necessary.”

Stanford Children’s Health
  • Seek professional help (such as a therapist or psychiatrist) 
  • Lock lethal weapons in your home such as guns. Make sure to lock and know the location of pills and dangerous kitchen utensils. 
  • If someone you care about is considering suicide do not keep it a secret, even if they tell you to. Tell a trusted adult or guardian who can intervene and become a resource. 

https://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/topic/default?id=teen-suicide-learning-to-recognize-the-warning-signs-1-1696

https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/teens-suicide-prevention

^^ Here are some additional links for anyone who knows someone who may be considering suicide.

Start a conversation below about how mental health stigma impacts your community. Also, feel free to ask me any questions! 

RESOURCES 

– National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

– Colorado Crisis Services Call: 1-844-493-TALK (8255)

– Colorado Crisis Services Text: Text TALK to 38255

Works Cited 

Shaffer, David. “The epidemiology of teen suicide: An examination of risk 

     factors.” American Psychological Association, psycnet.apa.org/record/ 

     1989-22754-001

https://psycnet.apa.org/record/1989-22754-001

 

Bales, Nick, and Maria Bales. “Our Story.” Brought to Reality, 

     broughttoreality.com/. 

 https://broughttoreality.com/

 

Brown, Jennifer. “Colorado kids and teens are dying at a rate higher than the

     U.S. average — and suicide is to blame.” The Colorado Sun [Denver], 17

     June 2019, coloradosun.com/2019/06/17/kids-count-report-colorado/.

https://coloradosun.com/2019/06/17/kids-count-report-colorado/

 

Daley, John. “The Rate Of Teen Suicide In Colorado Increased By 58% In 3            Years,  Making It The Cause Of 1 In 5 Adolescent Deaths.” CPR News                [Denver], 17 Sept. 2019

https://www.cpr.org/2019/09/17/the-rate-of-teen-suicide-in-colorado-increased-by-58-percent-in-3-years-making-it-the-cause-of-1-in-5-adolescent-deaths/


Stanford University. “Teen Suicide: Learning to Recognize the Warning Signs.” 

     Stanford Children’s Health, Stanford Medicine.                                

https://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/topic/default?id=teen-suicide-learning-to-recognize-the-warning-signs-1-1696

 

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. “Risk and Protective Factors.” Suicide 

     Prevention Resource Center, www.sprc.org/about-suicide/ 

     risk-protective-factors.

https://www.sprc.org/about-suicide/risk-protective-factors

 

Rudlin, Kathryn. “Understanding Suicidal Ideation in Teens.” Verywell Mind, 26 

     Mar. 2020, www.verywellmind.com/suicidal-ideation-defined-2611328

https://www.verywellmind.com/suicidal-ideation-defined-2611328

 

“Talking to teens: Suicide prevention.” American Psychological Association, 

     2018, www.apa.org/helpcenter/teens-suicide-prevention. 

https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/teens-suicide-prevention

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COMMENTS: 5
  1. April 25, 2020 by Kelly

    Hi Annabelle, I think you did a really great job on this project. Your page is well researched and your voice is clear throughout it. Similarly to you, the focus of my project revolved around mental health issues in my community. To answer your question I feel that mental illness and mental health are not really talked about or taught in my school community. Obviously this is a huge problem and I hope to help fix it.

    • April 27, 2020 by Annabelle

      Thank you so much! I really appreciate that you took time to read my presentation and give me some feedback! I agree, it is a huge problem, and I believe it can be helped through many small movements from many different individuals… I am glad you recognize the lack of conversation in your community because it is the first step in making change!

  2. April 27, 2020 by Iman

    Hi Annabelle,

    This is a really great presentation and I was able to learn a lot from it. To answer your question, although my school does a good job getting rid of the stigma of mental health, there isn’t enough discussion or support. The conversations we have about mental health are too few and far between, and I believe there aren’t enough counselors for our student body. The administration at my school is doing a pretty good job but not as good of a job as they should be in order to make the space feel open and where students are educated and feel supported.

    -Iman

    • April 27, 2020 by Annabelle

      Hello Iman!
      Thank you for interacting with my presentation… I truly appreciate it. Thank you for giving me insight about your school. It seems as if many high schools are trying, but they are missing key factors in their efforts. The lack of available resources, and the lack of overall comfort/support seems to be one of the big underlying issues in school systems.

  3. April 27, 2020 by Marie Graham

    I love your project! I lost a close family member to suicide and love that you are helping bring awareness. I wonder what else you can do? Perhaps you could design an app that schools have students download for support when they need it. Just a thought but would love to see you designing. I can tell you have a good heart and an eye for powerful issues.

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