Boys and Girls Clubs Stresses Strong Relationships Between Adults and Young People as Key to Suicide Prevention
Today is World Suicide Prevention Day.
In Canada, suicide accounts for 24% of all deaths among 15 to 24 year olds. It follows motor vehicle accidents as the leading cause of death among Canadian youth and it is the number one cause of death for marginalized youth such as First Nations.
Studies have shown unequivocally that the presence of an adult or peer mentor – a person with whom youth can identify and from whom they gather strength – is the most important factor in keeping youth from being overwhelmed by stress, anxiety, depression and suicide.
Caring adults and mentors provide young people with a sense of belonging, acceptance, empowerment and connection, factors that are known to foster mental health and emotional well-being. Having a strong connection to someone who is able to listen, and support a young person who speaks about mental distress is absolutely invaluable, especially if he or she is able to recognize distress and accompany the person in obtaining help. Such relationships can literally be life-saving.
Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada strives to provide strong relationships between adults and young people – the kind of relationships youth can count on. The majority of Boys and Girls Clubs alumni (93%) credit a particular staff member for developing, helping and supporting them. For many youth, Boys and Girls Clubs are like a second home - a place to belong. Clubs provide a safe, supportive place where they are listened to, respected and valued in an environment of inclusion and acceptance.
Every young person should have access to programs and supports that promote mental health and emotional well-being. Community-based out-of-school programs such as those delivered by Boys and Girls Clubs are crucial in reaching young people and their families when they need it most. But we can all recognize the need to fill this role in the prevention of youth suicide.
We can all help youth cultivate meaningful relationships with adults and peers in their community, ensuring they have the support they need and breaking the social isolation associated with mental health issues. Such close relationships can help save a young person’s life.