Nearly every two hours, another youth in this country dies from suicide.  And for every completed suicide, there are another 100 to 200 non-fatal attempts.  Suicide is the third leading cause of death among adolescents in Louisiana.  Most startling is the fact that more people kill themselves than are killed by others.

In an effort to educate the public about these risks, Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco has designated Sept. 19-25 as Youth Suicide Prevention and Awareness Week.

“Suicide affects the entire community,” said Department of Health Secretary Dr. Fred Cerise.  “We hope to use this week to spread the message that suicide can be prevented and that awareness is the key.”

The Louisiana Youth Suicide Prevention Task Force is using the week to give the public more information on suicide and ways to prevent it.  The task force was developed out of the DHH—Office of Public Health—Louisiana Adolescent Health Initiative.  The goal of the initiative is to give adolescents the opportunity to grow and prosper in a healthy, nurturing and safe environment.

Task force members include Louisiana Adolescent Health Initiative (Chair), Adolescent School Health Initiative, the Attorney General's Office, Baton Rouge Crisis Center, Children's Bureau, Department of Education, Family Planning Program, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Injury Prevention.

Jewish Family Service, Maternal and Child Health Program, Office of Mental Health and Volunteer Information Agency, Mental Health Association of Louisiana, Southeastern University, St. Thomas Health Services, Senator Paulette Irons’ Office, 21st J.D.C. Attorney's Office, Children's Safety Network, Children's Bureau and NAMI Louisiana.

The task force will use its Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention Program to promote the week with events including yellow ribbon day at La. schools, and a suicide awareness walk to be held at the Baton Rouge Crisis Intervention Center.

A community summit to address youth suicide prevention will be held Wed., Sept. 22 from 8:30 a.m. – 12 p.m. at the Jewish Community Center, 5342 St. Charles Ave., New Orleans. Those wishing to attend the summit should contact Trina Evans Williams, OPH state adolescent health coordinator, at (504) 568-6636 or by email at by Mon., Sept. 20.  For more information on La. Yellow Ribbon Week activities, also contact Trina Evans Williams at (504) 568-6636.