Suicide rates on the rise in San Diego County

SAN DIEGO -- Suicides are on the rise in San Diego, according to a new report from the San Diego Suicide Prevention Council.

The report, released Thursday, shows that 458 people took their own lives last year, 27 more than in 2016.

On Thursday, SPC, along with students, parents and teachers, shared highlights from SPC's  2018 “Report to the Community,” which highlighted suicide prevention efforts in K-12 schools in San Diego.

Read the full report from San Diego's Suicide Prevention Council

"The fact that this many of our youth are suffering demands our action," said Stan Collins, a Suicide Prevention Specialist. Collins said that every year in San Diego County, 15 to 25-percent of students consider suicide. An additional 10-percent of students attempt suicide every year.

Assembly Bill 2246 took effect last school year, requiring all California schools serving 7th to 12th-graders to adopt suicide prevention policies and practices.

Collins said those policies apply not only to educators, but for others who work with students, such as bus drivers and food service workers. All staff members are trained on how to identify warning signs and to learn which students are most at risk to commit suicide.

Jade Forero, a student at Mountain Empire High School, said she is thankful for the practices that her school has adopted. "I was dealing with stress and anxiety during school time," Forero told FOX 5. She said she found help using the services of Mending Matters. The group offers licensed therapy for individuals or groups, right on campus.

Campus clubs and mental heath awareness campaigns are also popping up on campuses, like the Directing Change Program and Film Contest. The state-wide contest encourages students to create films that promote mental health awareness and other critical health topics. A student group from Rancho Minerva Middle School received an honorable mention for their film last school year.

"It's great to have professionals supporting us, but it really comes down to those family members and those friends in our lives that help keep us afloat through the tough times," Collins told FOX 5. "Those small check-ins can be an amazing thing to keep that hope strong."

One way to get involved in the fight to end youth suicide is to know the warning signs.

And anyone who needs someone to talk to can reach the crisis hotline at 888-724-7240, or visit www.up2sd.org