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Small Spike in Atitudes: More NH Youth at Risk for Suicide

Local advocates have spotted a spike in two factors that can contribute to the risk of suicide for young people in the Granite State. It will be a major issue at next month's 13th Annual Suicide Prevention Conference. (Miskatonic/Wikimedia Commons)
Local advocates have spotted a spike in two factors that can contribute to the risk of suicide for young people in the Granite State. It will be a major issue at next month's 13th Annual Suicide Prevention Conference. (Miskatonic/Wikimedia Commons)
October 24, 2016

CONCORD, N. H. – It isn't a major jump, but mental-health professionals have detected a convergence in two key attitudes that can increase the risk of suicide for young New Hampshire residents.

One of the tools suicide-prevention counselors use is the responses students give to surveys that ask them what they think about such topics as life and drugs.

Mary Forsythe-Taber, executive director of the Makin' It Happen Coalition for Resilient Youth, also is co-chair of the 13th annual State of New Hampshire Suicide Prevention Conference.

According to Forsythe-Taber, recent surveys of New Hampshire young people reveal a concerning trend in the number of kids showing signs of depression who also have relaxed attitudes about using alcohol or drugs.

"When you see the numbers of kids that are hopeless and stressed combined with the numbers of relaxed attitudes toward those substances," she says, "when we start to see those two going in a direction we dont want them, that's a concern."

While New Hampshire is battling a major problem with opioid abuse, Forsyth-Taber says alcohol still kills more Granite State teens than any other substance.

The conference theme this year is "It's Happening Here." It takes place Friday, Nov. 14 at the SERESC Conference Center in Bedford.

Young people in the Granite State also want to be part of the solution, says Forsythe-Tayber, and the conference will highlight local high school and college students who took part in leadership training in suicide prevention.

"They want to keep their friends safe," she explains. "There is hope, there is workforce happening today, it's happening at a high school and college level, to engage in bringing this message forward - how important suicide prevention is."

She says in addition to mental-health professionals, the conference draws Granite Staters who have been touched by suicide, and some of the workshops can help with the healing process.

"It's not just for guidance counselors," she stresses. "This is across the board, for everybody to find a workshop and walk away with both some information and some inspiration."

The conference will include sessions on cyber bullying, the invisible wounds of war and a look at the national program Zero Suicide.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NH