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Preventing Youth Suicide:

The Importance of Ensuring Access to Services

A Virtual Forum presented by the League of Women Voters of the Cape Cod Area
March 28, 2023 at 6:30 pm-8 pm

View Panelist Bios


Downloadable Resources:

Forum Speaker Bios

Youth Suicide Prevention Resources

Forum Flyer


Resources—Preventing Youth Suicide

For Help—Organizations and Programs

988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline  — The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in the United States. Click on Contact Us to chat 24/7.

Hey Sam—   Hey Sam is a dedicated peer-to-peer texting service for people up to 24 years old. Designed for and staffed by young people, Hey Sam gives youth the opportunity to reach peers if they are struggling, need someone to talk to, or need support. If you or someone you know is feeling lonely, depressed, overwhelmed, or suicidal, we are here for you. Whatever the reason, reach out. You are not alone. Text: 439-726 | Hours: 9AM-9PM

Sharing Kindness  –Sharing Kindness, a Cape-based nonprofit provides suicide prevention, mental health education and grief support programs. Suicide prevention includes hosting the annual C&I Suicide Awareness Walk each May and partnering with schools to offer Hope Squad, an evidence-based, school-based peer suicide prevention program. Mental Health education includes community forums and documentaries on topics impacting mental health such as anxiety, suicide, racism, social media, and cyber-bullying. Peer Grief Support programs are offered for free and across the lifespan.  Sharing Kindness Young Adult Grief Group –A new clinician-led peer grief support group. A place where young adults (18+) can connect and share their grief experiences.   Sharing Kindness Family Grief Support Groups  –Twice monthly, free grief support groups to meet the needs of family members—tweens (10-13), teens (14-18) and parents. A light supper followed by separate meetings for parents and for each age group. Studies show that grief support for children who have lost a parent or sibling reduces their risk for suicide, improves academics, decreases risk for substance use, and protects against entry into the juvenile justice system.

The Samaritans on Cape Cod and the Islands–a non-sectarian, non-profit volunteer organization whose mission is to end suicide by fostering caring, connection, resilience, and public understanding. As members of the oldest and largest suicide prevention network in the world, we encourage our community to talk openly about suicide in order to best help and provide hope to those in need.

The Trevor Project   –For young LGBTQ lives. Non-profit organization offers a toll-free telephone number where confidential assistance is provided by trained counselors. Learn how to help yourself and others.

NAMI Cape Cod & the Islands Resources (National Alliance on Mental Illness) — a grass-roots non-profit organization serving the families and friends of people with mental illness, as well as the individuals who have a mental illness themselves on Cape Cod and The Islands. Programs and Services are provided through Support, Education, and Advocacy. We are an affiliate of both NAMI Massachusetts and NAMI National in Washington D.C.

Cape & Islands Suicide Prevention Coalition Resources –The mission of the Cape and Islands Suicide Prevention Coalition is to help give Cape Cod and Island communities the necessary information and tools to raise awareness, promote education, and increase action to reduce suicides.

Cape Cod Grandmothers Against Gun Violence— a non-profit, non-partisan, grassroots organization focusing on gun violence prevention and firearm safety. Our mission is to educate our members, collaborate with other groups who share our concerns, and advocate for public policy and legislation leading to reduced gun violence in all our communities.

Care Solace-a School-based program in Chelmsford, MA  Care Solace can help students and family members quickly find treatment options matched to individual needs. Care Solace is a free and confidential service provided to students, staff, and their families by Chelmsford Public Schools. Care Solace’s team is available 24/7/365 and can support you in any language.

Duffy Health Center – For more than 30 years, the Duffy Health Center, Hyannis, has provided equitable, integrated primary health care and support services to people experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness on Cape Cod, and has improved the quality of life for vulnerable and marginalized populations through community collaborations, leadership, and advocacy. The agency is considered a leader in treatment, recovery and mental health services that are supportive and collaborative with community partners.

Everytown for Gun Safety – the largest gun violence prevention organization in America and a movement of nearly 10 million mayors, teachers, survivors, gun owners, students, and everyday Americans. They sponsor Moms Demand Action, Students Demand Action, and The Everytown Survivor Network.

988 Partner Toolkit SAMHSA  –Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) explains the 988 National Helpline so that governments, states, territories, tribes, crisis centers, and partners gain a clear understanding about what 988 is and how it will work. It offers outreach materials for your community coalitions to meet the needs of your audiences.

The Jason Foundation  –a private, non-profit foundation providing students, parents, and teachers the tools and resources to help identify and help at-risk youth. This is accomplished through a curriculum unit for students and informational seminars for teachers and parents. JFI’s intention is to empower youth, educators, and parents to help recognize when young people are in pain and know to get professional help involved as soon as possible. The Foundation reports that, for middle and high school age youth (ages 12-18), suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death. For college age youth (ages 18-22), suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death. Over-all, suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death for our youth ages 10-24.

Never Too Late Video from The Teen Tiger TV crew. They wished to add their voice to the availability of the new 988 number in a way that was compelling enough to make someone decide to use the call-in line. WPAA-TV and Community Media Center.

Youth Mental Health Project The Youth Mental Health Project supports parents and caregivers so they can support their children’s mental health.

BAMSI Founded in 1975, BAMSI is in the business of “bringing people and services together.” Over the years, we have become one of the most trusted organizations working with children, families, individuals, and seniors to enrich their lives. Parent Network

Statistics and Reports

ABC News — Gun suicide soars as cause of death among youth: ReportNearly half of all suicide attempts among young people involve a gun. June 2, 2022.

The Youth Risk Behavioral Surveillance System (YRBS) of the CDC–The Youth Risk Behavioral Surveillance System (YRBS) is a survey, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), that includes national, state, and local school-based representative samples of 9th through 12th grade students. The purpose is to monitor priority health risk behaviors that contribute to the leading causes of death, disability, and social problems among youth in the United States. The surveys are conducted every two years to determine the prevalence of these health risk behaviors. Behaviors that contribute to unhealthy lifestyles and those that indicate possible depression and/or suicidal ideation are included. Click here to see the full report.

Everytown Research and Policy — Everytown Research & Policy conducts independent, methodologically rigorous research, supports evidence-based policies, and communicates this knowledge to the public.

Cape Cod Times— Teen girls report record levels of violence, sadness and suicide risk, CDC survey finds. Data showed 57% of high school girls felt persistently sad or hopeless in 2021 – a nearly 60% increase and the highest level reported over the past decade. In comparison, 29% of boys the same age reported the same feelings. Published 2/13/2023.

CDC— Drug overdose deaths among adolescents increased substantially beginning in late 2019. Although deaths appear to have begun declining in late 2021, they are still alarmingly higher than in 2019. Urgent efforts to prevent overdose deaths among adolescents are needed. Collaboration among public health and safety agencies, physicians, mental health and substance use treatment providers, and educators to implement these efforts could save lives. MMWR December 16, 2022 / 71(50);1576–1582

CNN Health Youth depression and anxiety doubled during the pandemic, new analysis finds, By Sarah Molano, Tue August 10, 2021. 12:42 PM EDT

NY Times – A briefing. Gun Violence and Children. Guns are now the No. 1 cause of deaths among American children and teens, ahead of car crashes, other injuries, and congenital disease. Dec. 15, 2022.

U.S. News Youth depression and anxiety doubled during the pandemic, new analysis finds, Sarah Molano, CNN, published 12:42 PM EDT, Tue August 10, 2021 We’ve seen nearly a 5-fold increase in suicidal ideation of children from 10 to 12 since 2000.

U.S. News  Suicide Rate Is Spiking Upwards in Preadolescent Children, March 15, 2022, at 11:49 a.m. Suicide is now the leading cause of death for Asian American youth and the second leading cause of death for young people nationally.

CDC WISQARS The CDC’s Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System reports an alarming increase in suicides in children ages 10 – 14.  The number of suicides for this group has more than doubled since 2006, making it the second leading cause of death for that age group. More teenagers and young adults die from suicide than from cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia, influenza, and chronic lung disease, combined. Each day in our nation, there are an average of over 3,703 attempts by young people grades 9-12.  If these percentages are additionally applied to grades 7 & 8, the numbers would be higher. Four out of five individuals considering suicide give some sign of their intentions, either verbally or behaviorally.

LWVCCA 3/2023

Our Panelists

Julian Cyr
(pronouns he/him/his) serves in the Massachusetts Senate representing Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket. First elected to the State Senate in November 2016, Julian is now serving in his fourth term and is among the youngest senators in the 40-member body. Julian’s legislative priorities are primarily informed by the unique needs of the Cape and Islands district and his perspective as a member of the LGBTQ community. Julian was the lead author of the 2022 landmark law,An Act Addressing Barriers to Care for Mental Health, which represents the most comprehensive reform to mental health care in Massachusetts in decades. Julian graduated with a degree in public policy and community health from New York University, but he will tell you that he learned many of the skills he uses daily from waiting tables and cooking behind the line for 14 seasons at his family’s restaurant in Truro.

Kim Mead-WaltersMD, is a wife, mother, grandmother, physician with lived experience. When her beloved 16-year-old son Jeremy died from suicide in 2016, Kim realized that, in addition to the need to raise suicide awareness, there was no grief support available for her family and Jeremy’s friends. She and her husband, Davis Walters, created Sharing Kindness, Inc., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that provides suicide prevention, mental health education and peer grief support programs on the Cape & Islands. In addition to being the Executive Director of Sharing Kindness, Kim is also a Board Certified Family Physician (recently retired from a 30-year career as a primary care doctor), is a member of the Barnstable County Children’s Behavioral Health Work Group, and serves on the Board of Directors at Cape Cod Children’s Place. Kim has also recently retired as the Truro Central School physician and as the team physician for the Cape Cod Baseball League’s Orleans Firebirds, to allow her to devote more time and energy to Sharing Kindness.

Daniel Rodrigues, LICSW, is the Director of Substance Use Disorder Services at Duffy Health Center in Hyannis. Duffy Center is a Federally Qualified Health Center serving Barnstable County’s most marginalized communities where individuals experience homelessness and housing instability. Daniel is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker, graduating from Smith College School for Social Work in 2013. Since then, Daniel has worked in the field of substance use disorders and mental health in treatment facilities and as a hospital-based social worker in maternity and pediatrics units. At the Duffy Health Center, Daniel provides clinical oversight for all of the health center’s substance use disorder services, including the Recovery Build Alternative Peer Group program that supports adolescents ages 13-17 with a substance use disorder. This program—in partnership with Behavioral Health Innovators, Inc.—has sites in Falmouth and Dennis and enables teens to grow supportive networks of peers and navigate behavioral health struggles, including thoughts of self-harm and suicide.

Katie Fauth has been in education for the past 22 years as a special education teacher and a classroom teacher.  She is currently a School Adjustment Counselor and the Clinical Coordinator of the Bridge Program at Falmouth High School. The Bridge Program supports students in their return to school after a long absence due to either medical or mental health reasons. It is based upon the Bridge for Resilient Youth in Transition (BRYT) program—a nationwide model created almost 20 years ago from Brookline High School and Brookline Center for Community Mental Health.  Katie and her colleagues started this program at Falmouth High School 6 years ago, having supported many students since then. Katie is also one of the advisors of Hope Squad which is a nationwide suicide prevention program that brings the light of mental health awareness to all.

Samaritans on Cape Cod and the Islands

Karen Ellery-Jones has been the Assistant Director of the Samaritans on Cape Cod and the Islands for more than six years and oversees the training of crisis line staff members and volunteers, community outreach and education, and is a certified trainer for several suicide prevention programs. Prior to working at the Samaritans, she was a medical features writer for a regional magazine and also an editor and safety analyst for an international care company based in Boston. She lived in London for two years with her British born husband and they now reside in East Sandwich. She enjoys hiking, biking, cooking, films, travel, wine and her two rescue black cats Theo and Charlotte.

Our Moderator

Jacqueline Lane has been the Executive Director of the National Association on Mental Illness (NAMI) Cape Cod & the Islands for the past five years. She is also the principle in a consulting firm specializing in all aspects of non-profit management including fund-raising, marketing, and strategic planning. In the past, she has served on several non-profit boards in Boston and on the Cape. She has a background in retail management and has owned retail businesses. Her first job was that of an English teacher. Jackie’s interest and passion for mental health and wellness is the result of watching and participating in her family’s struggles as they coped with her brother’s serious mental illness, in other words, “lived experience.”

Our Co-Host

Tara Vargas Wallace is the YMCA’s Director of the Y Achievers program. After working over 20 years in human services for various social service agencies, Tara founded Amplify POC (People of Color) Cape Cod in 2021, a racial equity non-profit organization focused on reducing the racial wealth gap in communities of color. She is the Eastern Region Politics and Civic Leadership Platform Coordinator of the Massachusetts Women of Color Coalition and is actively engaged in her local NAACP and MLK Jr. Action Team. She has been awarded the 2020 “Unsung Hero Award” by the Barnstable County Human Rights Advisory Commission and was a 2020 “40 under 40” award winner from Cape & Plymouth Business Magazine.

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