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Suicide crisis on the rise among elementary students

A troubling increase in the suicide crisis has many Santa Barbara North County mental health advocates concerned.

Over the last five years, local non-profit Family Service Agency found a rise in suicide crisis among children much younger then expected.

Christina Forbes, School Service Supervisor said: “We definitely see a rise in minors, some ages nine to eighteen and on rare instances seven years old.”

Forbes noted that on a daily basis people reach out with issues related to suicide, often from a domestic violence situation, a drug and alcohol problem, or loneliness.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suicide now ranks in the ten leading causes of death in the United States. It’s no longer just a mental health issue, it’s now considered an epidemic.

Family Service’s suicide outreach program helps those in crisis, thinking about or attempting suicide. They advocate that if you see changes in someone’s behavior, talk to them, listen and seek professional help.

“Talk to the person, ask them if they are having thoughts of suicide, its okay to use the word suicide,” said Behavioral Health Program Supervisor Will Fuller. He noted the key to helping those in need is to talk openly about the problem without judgement, and when you see someone’s behavior changing…pay attention.

“Ask them if they are having thoughts of’s okay to use the word suicide, normalize it and let them know that people having those types of behaviors could be having thoughts of suicide,”
Fuller said.

The main message Family Services wants to remind people of is that as a community we are responsible for each other.

“When we see those behaviors we really need to step up.” said Fuller.

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