A local nonprofit is working to bring awareness and prevent suicide right here in Madison County. Tuesday night the Huntsville Hospital Foundation hosted a town hall to help parents recognize signs within their children.
Parents from across Madison County were invited to attend the SPEAK Suicide Awareness, Prevention Town Hall. The meeting focused on social media and bullying which trigger many children.
With a show of hands about 80% of people at the SPEAK (Suicide. Prevention. Empowerment. Awareness. Knowledge) Suicide Awareness, Prevention Parent Town Hall said they knew someone who committed suicide.
“It is now the second leading cause of death, for teenagers in America,” explained Dr. Scott Poland.
Dr. Poland is a Professor at the Center for Psychological Studies and the Co-Director of the Suicide and Violence Prevention Office at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
The rate of suicide has doubled for middle school aged girls in the last decade. With social media, academic stressors and bullying, pressure on kids can be overwhelming.
“There’s a lot of competition and pressure on kids today. Not that many years ago, if you wanted to go to the flagship state university you were in. Now you have to be in an incredibly high percentage and your high school class to gain that admission,” said Dr. Poland.
The SPEAK task force is equipping parents with tools to identify issues with their children before they become serious.
“First of all is it persistent? Is this affecting home, school and peer relationships? Is it pervasive? Has it gone on for two or three weeks or more? Last question, is really have they dropped out what was previously a pleasure full activity,” continued Dr. Poland.
The goal is to begin talking about mental illness the same we talk about breast cancer.
“In America we have over 45,000 suicides a year. Have to talk about it more. We will never plant the idea of suicide in someone’s head, in fact it actually gives them a chance to unburdened themselves to know they are not alone and there is help available,” added Dr. Poland.
SPEAK North Alabama has a mobile app that provides resources on suicide, bullying and depression.You can download it on both Apple and Android devices.