September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and the D.C. nonprofit SADD, Students Against Destructive Decisions, launched a new campaign to support teenagers while providing resources for parents.
The organization began focusing on educating teens about suicide in 1997 and has since supported students’ mental health through its 8,000 chapters across the nation.
“There’s never been a more important time for young people to feel like they belong and they matter, especially as we continue to recover from the wake of COVID-19,” said Rick Birt, the nonprofit’s president.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 4 young people are currently struggling with a diagnosable mental health condition.
“We truly do have a mental health epidemic,” Birt said.
When looking at the District, he said there has been an increase in the number of students reporting thoughts of self-harm. The number of teens taking part in riskier behavior has also increased in the D.C. metro area.
“All of that is tied to the decrease in the mental health of our young people,” Birt said.
The nonprofit is now focused on making resources and training tools available to students looking to manage their own mental health or for those looking to support their peers.
The campaign also features a toolkit for parents, which includes conversation starters, a detailed guide on what signs to watch for and when to seek professional help.
“We think it’s really important that everyone knows how to take care of their mental health just like they would their physical health,” said Birt.
You can access resources on the SADD website.