Stand Together: Talking About Suicide

Talking About Teens, Technology and Suicide

Experts discussed using social media to reach youth in crisis

Students are heading back to school, and with that comes the everyday stress and social and academic pressures that for some can spiral into crisis. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates suicide is the third-leading cause of death among youth ages 10–24, and 17 percent of US high school students report they seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year. In a digitally connected world — where, according to the Pew Research Center, 92 percent of teens go online daily and 72 percent report they spend time with friends on social media — it has become critically important to devise suicide prevention tools and resources that can reach youth where they socialize: online

On Wednesday, Sept. 9 — during Suicide Prevention Month — the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention convened a panel of leading suicide experts, youth influencers, and people with firsthand experience with suicide to discuss how social media is being used to reach teens in crisis.

Panelists included:

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Ariel Blackwood

Speaking on personal experience

Ariel Blackwood is a junior at Furman University, where she is majoring in communications and religious studies. She is a passionate advocate for suicide prevention efforts, having lost her brother to suicide in 2008; she subsequently suffered bouts of depression and twice attempted suicide. She now has plans to attend law school, with the goal of working on suicide prevention legislation, and to continue to provide hope and break the silence of suicide.

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David Bond, LCSW

Vice President of Programs, The Trevor Project

David Bond is a licensed clinical social worker and a board-certified expert in traumatic stress. He is the vice president of programs at The Trevor Project, a national organization providing suicide prevention and crisis intervention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youths, and oversees its crisis services, which include a 24-hour telephone hotline in addition to chat and texting platforms. He has more than 12 years of experience as a psychotherapist specializing in the treatment of young survivors of trauma.

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Max Mars

Speaking on personal experience

Max Mars is a 21-year-old comedian from Minnesota who was diagnosed with depression when he was just 13 years. In speaking engagements at schools to teachers, students and parents, he has been an advocate for the proper treatment of depression for teens and young adults. He hopes to one day be able to speak around the country about mental health issues and share his comedy and insight with others who may be struggling.

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Chad Moses

Music and Events Coordinator, To Write Love on Her Arms

Ten days after receiving his diploma from the University of Virginia, Chad Moses found himself unloading his car in Florida for the first term of an internship with To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA), a nonprofit that aids young people dealing with addiction, depression, self-injury, and suicidal thoughts. As a member of the organization’s music and events team since 2008, he has had the opportunity to stage-dive in seven countries and on three continents. When he’s not finding creative ways to collaborate with musicians, festivals, and entertainment companies, Chad speaks on behalf of TWLOHA at concerts and other venues, on college campuses, and on the group’s blog.

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Dan Reidenberg, Ph.D.

U.S. Representative, International Association for Suicide Prevention;
Managing Director, National Council for Suicide Prevention;
Executive Director, Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE)

Dr. Dan Reidenberg is the executive director of Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE) and managing director of the National Council for Suicide Prevention. He is also the U.S. representative to the International Association for Suicide Prevention and is the author of a number of books and journal articles about suicide prevention and media reporting. In 2011, he represented SAVE when the organization was named by the White House as a Champion of Change in the area of suicide prevention.

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Victor Schwartz, MD

Medical Director, The JED Foundation

Dr. Victor Schwartz is medical director of The Jed Foundation, a suicide prevention initiative focusing on college students. He came to the foundation in 2012 from Yeshiva University, where he was dean of students and director of the university’s counseling center. He is a clinical associate professor of psychiatry at New York University School of Medicine and has served as medical director and chief psychiatrist at the NYU Counseling Service and an assistant director of residency training in psychiatry. A Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, he was a member of the association’s Presidential Task Force on College Mental Health and was co-chair of its working group on legal issues and college mental health.

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Jack Benson [Moderator]

Action Alliance EXCOM member
Co-lead, Public Awareness and Education Task Force

Jack Benson, a partner at Reingold, Inc., has more than 25 years of experience leading and advising companies, associations, and federal agencies on growth strategy, marketing and communications, and operational issues. He currently oversees several national mental health and suicide prevention campaigns, including the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Make the Connection and Veterans Crisis Line initiatives. He serves as chairman of the board for the Military Family Advisory Network and trustee of the Washington Waldorf School. He is a member of the executive committee of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention and is co-lead of its public awareness and education task force.

Download all panelist bios

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Email StandTogetherTeens@Reingold.com

Join the conversation on social media: use #SuicideReporting

Resources for Journalists

Information and Data

Advanced training on covering suicide and mental health
The Poynter Institute offers a free course to help journalists and reporters gain a better understanding of mental health conditions, mental illness and covering suicide.

Five ways to prepare your newsroom to cover suicide effectively
Five quick tips from Poynter for journalists covering suicide.

Information and data from the CDC on suicide among youth
Learn the risk factors that could potentially increase the likelihood of suicide in teenagers.

Recommendations for Reporting on Suicide
Recommendations for responsible coverage of suicide, developed by leading experts in suicide prevention, public health, media organizations, and others.

Suicide facts and figures
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention offers the latest statistics on suicide by age, gender, ethnicity, and state.

Youth suicide warning signs
Information about suicide warning signs in people up to the age of 24, including resources for healthcare professionals, parents, and other gatekeepers such as coaches and pastors, on how to identify and respond to warning signs, and where to find help.

Survey about mental health and suicide in the United States
Results of a recent national online survey on mental health, anxiety, and suicide, conducted by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Anxiety and Depression Association of America, and National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention.

Recent report on cyberbullying and youth
A 2015 report by JAMA Pediatrics details the impact that cyberbullying can have on children and young people, especially concerning mental health, and provides other important information about cyberbullying.

Information about bullying from StopBullying.gov
Information from several government agencies on what bullying is, what cyberbullying is, who is at risk, and how groups and individuals can prevent and respond to bullying

Suicide facts and figures among LGBTQ youth
The Trevor Projects offers statistics on suicide among the Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, Transgendered, and Questioning (LGBTQ) youth community.

Related Resources

Facebook suicide reporting tool
Facebook offers a suicide-reporting tool that allows people to receive help and resources directly through their account. If Facebook users see a concerning message, they can report it directly to Facebook.

Half of Us
A partnership between mtvU and The Jed Foundation, Half of Us aims to raise awareness of mental health issues among college students. Half of Us offers resources for mental health concerns as well as hosts campus events through The Jed Foundation’s Love is Louder campaign.

The Jed Foundation
The Jed Foundation works to promote emotional health and suicide prevention efforts among college and university students. The Jed Foundation encourages students to become emotionally healthy and to seek help when they need it.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Any person in crisis or concerned about someone in crisis can call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for immediate, free, confidential support.

ReachOut USA
ReachOut USA uses technology to reach teens in crisis through stories written by their peers who are living and coping with mental illness and other difficult challenges. The website offers an online forum where teens can reach out for support 24/7.

Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE)
Through public awareness and education, The Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE) works to reduce negative stigmas surrounding mental illness and suicide. They also serve as a resource to those who have been affected by suicide.

The Trevor Project
Since 1998, The Trevor Project has been leading suicide prevention and crisis intervention efforts for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth and young adults. They offer TrevorText (text “TREVOR” to 1-202-304-1200), TrevorChat, and Trevor Lifeline, the only national 24/7 lifeline for LGBTQ youth, available at 1-866-488-7386.

See the Conversation

Watch the discussion on YouTube

Storify

Additional resources for journalists

For additional information or to contact a panelist, email StandTogetherTeens@reingold.com

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