Louisiana Department of Health officials are encouraging Louisiana residents to look for warning signs in young people who may be in crisis as part of Yellow Ribbon Youth Suicide Awareness and Prevention Week.

Suicide ranks third as the overall cause of death for young people in Louisiana, and 90 percent of teenagers who die by suicide have a mental health problem, usually depression.

"Nothing is more devastating for a family and a community than a young person taking his or her own life," LDH Secretary Bruce Greenstein said. "We know that suicide is preventable, but education is essential in building a culture where young people can speak out and speak up and get help for themselves or friends in need."

As Yellow Ribbon Youth Suicide Awareness and Prevention Week comes to a close, LDH is reminding Louisianians to watch out for these warning signs from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. If you know someone who is exhibiting any of these signs, reach out and encourage the individual to contact a mental health professional as soon as possible.

Threatening to hurt or kill oneself or talking about wanting to hurt or kill oneself;
Looking for ways to kill oneself by seeking access to firearms, available pills, or other means;
Talking or writing about death, dying, or suicide when these actions are out of the ordinary for the person;
Feeling hopeless;
Feeling rage or uncontrolled anger or seeking revenge;
Acting reckless or engaging in risky activities - seemingly without thinking;
Feeling trapped - like there's no way out;
Increasing alcohol or drug use;
Withdrawing from friends, family, and society;
Feeling anxious, agitated, or unable to sleep or sleeping all the time;
Experiencing dramatic mood changes; or
Seeing no reason for living or having no sense of purpose in life.

"It's critical that we open the lines of communication regarding behavioral health issues and the consequences that can result when those issues go unresolved. And we must not be afraid or ashamed to seek mental health treatment when it is needed any more than we would be ashamed to see a doctor for the flu," said Dr. Rochelle Dunham, OBH Medical Director. "Increasing awareness is a key factor in our suicide prevention efforts. Everyone should be aware of the warning signs associated with suicide and feel comfortable talking to their loved ones when concerns arise."

To aid in its efforts, LDH's Office of Behavioral Health, along with the Louisiana Department of Education and the Attorney General's Office, sponsored the fourth annual youth suicide prevention and awareness rally on the steps of the State Capitol Thursday, September 23 to educate the public about youth suicide. You can view photos from this event on the Department's Facebook page, http://bit.ly/atifAc .

Individuals who would like to learn more about the behavioral health services offered through the Department should visit http://www.dhh.louisiana.gov/offices/?ID=62. For more information on suicide prevention, visit http://www.cdc.gov/ViolencePrevention/suicide/index.html.

The Louisiana Department of Health strives to protect and promote health statewide and to ensure access to medical, preventive and rehabilitative services for all state citizens. To learn more about LDH, visit http://www.dhh.louisiana.gov. For up-to-date health information, news and emergency updates, follow LDH's blog at www.myhealthla.org, Twitter at http://twitter.com/La_Health_Dept and search for the Louisiana Department of Health on Facebook.