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March 2014Vol. 15, No. 3Suicide Prevention for Youth

Suicide is the third leading cause of death for youth ages 15–24. Youth who come into contact with the juvenile justice system, especially those in residential facilities, have higher rates of suicide than their peers not involved with juvenile justice. Drawing on evidence that a comprehensive public health approach can be effective in reducing suicide rates, the Youth in Contact with the Juvenile Justice System Task Force of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention has launched an initiative, the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention, in an effort to reduce the number of suicides among justice-involved youth. Given the correlation among youth involvement with the juvenile justice system and involvement with child welfare, these resources may be of use to child welfare and related professionals.

As part of this initiative, the task force has released a series of publications that describe the approaches showing promise, including education and training, assessment and treatment, and long-term prevention strategies. One publication, Preventing Juvenile Suicide through Improved Collaboration: Strategies for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice Agencies, describes the need for collaboration and data sharing across the juvenile justice, behavioral health, and social services systems and discusses how cross-systems collaboration can enhance the effectiveness of suicide reduction efforts.

The initiative's publications include:

The task force's Public Awareness and Education Workgroup also has developed a series of factsheets to raise awareness among individuals who work with youth involved with the juvenile justice system, including:

The National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention is supported by grants from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.