We are two years into the COVID-19 pandemic. Although we may get tired of talking about it, we cannot stop acting on it. With March being Self-Harm Awareness Month, we urge and encourage you to focus on our youth and the dramatic increase in self-harm over the past two years. We also want to concentrate on what we, as an organization and community, can do to promote positive mental health among youth.
In late 2021, the United States Surgeon General made an advisory aimed at specifically protecting the mental health of youth and young adults and highlighted the urgent need to pay attention to the nation’s mental health crisis among youth. The Surgeon General’s call to action hopes to change the conversation by prioritizing, normalizing, and promoting youth mental health.
The Adolescent Self-Injury Foundation shared that “a recent study from the CDC found that since May 2020, there has been more than 50% increase in emergency room visits for suspected suicide attempts in adolescent girls aged 12-17 than during the same period in 2019. The increase for boys was under 4%”.
It also shared that “suicide is now the 2nd leading cause of death before age 25. Research indicates that repeated self-injury is the strongest risk factor for possible subsequent suicide. Once self-injury stops, potential subsequent suicidal tendencies can be overcome”.
A study was conducted in 2021 from 2020 youth self-injury data, collecting data from 32 billion US private healthcare claims of the 13–18-year-old age group. The results are alarming, comparing data from 2020 to 2019 in the Northeast United States.
*90% increase in March 2020
*99% increase in April 2020
*333.9% increase in August 2020
Self-harm and self-injury is one of the least known and treated issues because it can easily be explained away or hidden. For family and friends, especially those who have loved ones suffering some type of mental illness, it’s important to watch for signs and patterns of self-injury. These could include:
- Arms, legs, or other parts of the body that show signs of consistent injury, such as scabs, bruises, burns, and cuts
- Overdressing in particularly warm weather, wearing, for example, coats, long sleeve shirts, or pants
- Repeatedly making excuses for why or how they got injured
- Avoidance, isolation, and withdrawal from activities and relationships they previously enjoyed
If you are a friend or family member of someone who is initiating self-harm, try these tips on talking with them about it:
- Remain calm. Be a role model. Demonstrate that you can manage your difficult emotions.
- Be gentle.
- The road to recovery begins by breaking the code of silence - you can save a life by reaching out to a trusted adult.
- Tell your friend that you love her/him, that she/he is important to you, and that you would want her/him to do the same for you if the roles were reversed.
All five of our funded partner agencies provide personalized mental health services for children and their families. Contact us today at 330-264-2527 to learn about education classes provided, service options for your family, or to join a support group of families going through a similar situation.
Wayne/Holmes Mental Health & Recovery Board
We aim to improve awareness of and access to mental health and addiction treatment and prevention services in Wayne & Holmes Counties.
We provide leadership, support, and funding to community partners and agencies in the delivery of mental health and addiction prevention, treatment, and recovery services.
Our agencies provide addiction treatment programs, mental health counseling, suicide prevention programming, and more. Experience you can trust.