The youth of our country are facing a unique time. A time where drunk driving and teenage pregnancy rates are down, yet a more deadly and silent threat has continued to loom over them. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among adolescents worldwide. Looking at ways to prevent suicide and strengthen young people who struggle with suicide ideation is a new struggle that many are looking at combating. A new study may hold some promises in solutions we already hold true in working with young people.
A 2019 study, published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, shows promises for the reduction of suicidal behavior in adolescents. This study is unique through its examination of social network structures in schools. The study looked at how peer friendships, and the presence of a trusted adult, would impact suicidal behaviors (attempts and ideation). What the study found was that when students had more friends, when there was the presence of a trusted adult, and when those same friends could name that same adulted as someone they trust, there was a reduction in rates for suicidal behavior.
This echoes what many youth workers, and we here at Rally Youth, believe in. The idea is to have a consistent, caring adult, engage in the lives of a group of youth. This idea can even be utilized in schools to transform how schools engage youth, keep track of student needs, monitor academic progress and help build meaningful connections between youth and staff.
In whatever program or context that you are in, keep fighting to build connections between youth and caring adults. Research in continuously pointing to new benefits of these relationships.