May 8, 2003
State Recognizes Local Efforts during National Suicide Prevention Awareness Week
Augusta - The Maine Youth Suicide Prevention Program, a coordinated effort of the Departments of Behavioral and Developmental Services, Corrections, Education, Human Services and Public Safety, held an event today in recognition of National Suicide Prevention Awareness Week. Governor John E. Baldacci was on hand to recognize the efforts of several individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to suicide prevention education this year.
"Youth suicide is a most difficult and complex issue,” Governor Baldacci observed. “There are few events more painful than the suicide of a young person, and we all must work together to reduce the number of youth suicides and suicide attempts by continuing to provide training and education to schools and community groups.”
Suicide attempts represent a serious heath issue among Maine youth. Suicide claims an average of 26 young lives in Maine each year, a rate that is higher than the national average. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for Maine young people between the ages of 15 and 24 and the third leading cause of death for those from 10 to 14. Only motor vehicle crashes cause more fatalities among Maine youth.
The Maine Youth Suicide Prevention Program has provided educational resources and training to individuals in school districts and community groups since 1998. The program also has provided school administrators with guidelines for recognizing signs of suicidal behavior among youth and responding to a suicide crisis. This year, the program received one of the two suicide prevention grants given by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This grant will provide funds to 12 high schools throughout the state to conduct comprehensive youth suicide prevention activities.
“Our goals are to raise awareness, knowledge and skills so that everyone in contact with youth at risk will have the competence and confidence to help prevent youth suicide,” said Cheryl DiCara, Coordinator of the Maine Youth Suicide Prevention Program. “Although suicidal behavior is difficult to recognize,” Ms. DiCara noted, “learning the risk factors and warning signs can be helpful in preventing youth suicide.”
Participants at the event received an update on program activities, including the provision of suicide prevention training and educational materials to thousands of individuals who work directly with youth in schools and communities statewide. Notably, the program unveiled its new video production of “A Life Saved,” the true story of a successful intervention by young people in Lincoln County. “A Life Saved” will be used as a tool for training adults who interact with young people such that they can serve as suicide prevention counselors, also known as ‘gatekeepers.’ In addition, “A Life Saved” will become part of the health education effort aimed at helping students to recognize signs of and to prevent suicide among their peers. A new report reflecting the thoughts and feelings about suicide prevention among young men in southern Maine was also released.
The Maine Youth Suicide Prevention Program has established a statewide 24 Hour Crisis Hotline. The toll free number is 1-888-568-1112. There is also a Web Site, www.maineosa.org/irc, and a statewide Information Resource Center for more information on and assistance with suicide prevention.