SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif.— September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and efforts are underway to prevent youth suicide statewide.
The California Department of Public Health has awarded 16.3 million dollars to non-profits across California.
With suicide being the second leading cause of death among teens and young adults ages 15-24 in California, this could change everything.
“That is not a surprising stat. And it's wonderful to see our state address this need by providing the kind of funding they are to so many organizations across California,” said Josh Carsman with Turning Point Foundation.
This youth suicide prevention campaign focuses on populations disproportionately impacted by suicide including LGBTQ+ and Latin X youth.
“As a Latin male, that's one thing that I was never able to do was talk about my feelings or how I felt and whether it'd be, you know, suicidal thoughts or just even saying that I was hurt,” said Co-founder of the Santa Barbara Response Network Anthony Rodriguez.
The involved organizations range from those focused on mental health resources to those that help treat substance use issues.
The American Indian Health & Services and the Mixteco Indigena Community Organizing Project are two local recipients benefiting from this campaign.
“Many of the causes that we may not think about for teen suicides can be things that are really out of our control. Major life changes, maybe moving into a new community, going to a new school, dealing with things like bullying,” said Carsman.
Mental health advocates say this state wide funding isn’t the only thing that will leave a lasting impact.
“Having that grant and all this money coming into play. I mean, that does make a difference. But what can make a bigger difference is how we react when somebody is thinking about suicide,” said Rodriguez.
A lot of that includes leading with empathy and understanding.
“You can still save a life just by asking this simple question. The simple question is, how are you doing? Are you okay? And with no judgment, that's what that's one thing that we have to remember. No judgment, nobody's perfect. And nobody's ever going to be perfect. And it's okay not to be okay. You just need to realize that people sometimes need to be listened to and that's it,” said Rodriguez.