During the month of September human service providers, mental health clinicians, community members, survivors and allies unite to spread the word about suicide prevention awareness. In this blog post, we will delve into the grim reality of suicide among homeless youth and explore ways in which individuals and communities can offer support and hope to those in need.
The Growing Crisis
- Understanding Homelessness Among Youth
To grasp the risk of suicide among homeless youth, it’s crucial to first understand the scope of youth homelessness. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures and The Voices of Youth Count approximately 4.2 million youth have experienced homelessness in the United States. Many of these young people lack stable housing, support systems, and access to essential resources.
- The Link Between Homelessness and Suicide
Homelessness creates a complex web of physical and psychological stressors, making youth particularly vulnerable to mental health challenges, including depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Youth who experience homelessness are more likely to have increased exposure to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and have a history of trauma. At the same time many of the typical buffering factors for stress like access to economic, familial and community resources are limited. These factors contribute to the increased risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors among homeless youth.
- Lack of Access to Mental Health Services
One of the most significant barriers youth experiencing homelessness face is limited access to mental health services. Stigmatization, financial constraints, and a lack of awareness about available resources can make it incredibly challenging for them to seek help when they need it the most. In response to this,TGTHR has made it a priority to provide no barrier, easy access mental health services available to every youth. In fiscal year 22-23 TGTHR has provided over 1500 sessions of mental health counseling including crisis counseling, individual counseling, art therapy, group therapy, nature based therapy, equine therapy and so much more.
Supporting Homeless Youth in Crisis
- Raise Awareness
Shedding light on the issue of suicide among homeless youth is the first step toward creating change. Share statistics, stories, and information on social media, in your community, or through local organizations to increase awareness about the challenges they face.
- Advocate for Policy Change
Support organizations and initiatives working to address youth homelessness and mental health. Advocate for increased funding and improved access to mental health services for homeless youth through your local and national representatives.
- Volunteer and Donate
Contribute your time and resources to TGTHR! We are always in need of volunteers, mentors, and donations. Your involvement can make a significant impact on a young person’s life.Building relationships and offering support can provide a lifeline to those in need.
- Education and Training
Educate yourself on the signs of suicidal thoughts and behaviors, as well as the resources available for mental health support. Training in mental health first aid can empower you to intervene when necessary. The national 988 hotline has put together the #BeThe1ToAsk campaign to bring awareness that taking the simple step of asking a young person if they are suicidal can save a life. Research shows people who are having thoughts of suicide feel relief when someone asks after them in a caring way. Findings suggest acknowledging and talking about suicide may reduce rather than increase suicidal ideation.
- Listen and Be Nonjudgmental
Sometimes, all it takes is a compassionate ear. If you are connected with a youth experiencing homelessness who is experiencing suicidal thoughts, listen without judgment and encourage them to share their feelings. Let them know that you care and are there to help.
While suicide can be an intimidating topic, its important that we come #TGTHR to tackle the stigma, and talk about ways we can support young people experiencing homelessness. By creating connection through community we give youth the courage to #keeponliving.