Suicide was the second leading cause of death for those ages 15-34 in South Dakota, in 2019. In 2019, data from the South Dakota Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) indicate that 23.1% of high school youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past 12 months, and 12.3% had attempted suicide one or more times in the 12 month period before the survey.

It is important for parents to recognize changes in their child’s behavior that may indicate something is wrong. It is not always easy to determine between the usual ups and downs of adolescent behavior and the signs of something more serious. In addition, youth may be reluctant to discuss their feelings. One important step that parents can take is to be aware of the risk factors and warning signs that a child might be at risk for suicide. Warning signs include:

  • Feelings of hopelessness, helpless, trapped, losing control, worthless, anxious and angry.
  • Actions such as recklessness, doing risky or dangerous things, use of alcohol or other drugs, getting into fights or arguments, talking or writing about death, changes in eating and sleeping, withdrawal from friends or activities.
  • Statements such as “I won’t be around much longer,” “Pretty soon you won’t have to worry about me,” “It’ll all be over soon,” “I wish I was dead,” and “Nothing matters anymore.”
  • Situations such as losses of any kind (relationship, financial, family), life changes that seem overwhelming, getting into legal trouble or trouble at school, experiencing death of a friend or relative, especially if by suicide.

While the causes of suicide are complex and caused by multiple factors, the goal of suicide prevention is to reduce the risk factors that increase vulnerability among youth and young adults, and to strengthen the connections that promote resiliency within individuals, families, and the larger community.

In partnership with the University of South Dakota Center of Disabilities and the South Dakota Department of Health, the following 4-part Suicide Prevention Video Series was developed

  • Part 1: Suicide Prevention
  • Part 2: ACEs Awareness
  • Part 3: Protective Factors
  • Part 4: Resources

Training for Parents:

  • NAMI Ending the Silence is an engaging presentation that helps audience members learn about the warning signs of mental health conditions and what steps to take if you or a loved one are showing symptoms of a mental health condition.
  • Youth Mental Health First Aid reviews the unique risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems in adolescents ages 12-18.  This 8-hour course emphasizes the importance of early intervention and covers how to help and adolescent in crisis or experiencing a mental health challenge.
  • The ASIST workshop is for anyone who wants to feel more comfortable, confident and competent in helping to prevent the immediate risk of suicide. Over one million people have participated in this two-day, highly interactive, practical, practice-oriented workshop. Watch a video about ASIST.
  • QPR is a one to two hour training that teaches 3 simple steps that anyone can learn to help save a life from suicide. Just as people trained in CPR to help save thousands of lives each year, people trained in QPR learn how to recognize the warning signs of a suicide crisis and how to question, persuade, and refer someone to help.

To learn more or to request a training, click here.