Youth Suicide Prevention – When “Fine” Isn’t Fine

Many young children and teens struggled during the COVID-19 pandemic. The situation reached such a critical juncture, that the American Academy of Pediatrics declared a state of emergency due to the intensifying challenges around child and adolescent mental health. A variety of circumstances, including the loss of a primary caregiver, led to increased positive rates of suicide risk screenings compared to those same risk factors prior to the pandemic.

Fortunately, organizations like Duck Cup Memorial Fund are stepping into the fray to bring more awareness to this issue. Sara Jutz, the Executive Director of Duck Cup Memorial Fund, recently spoke on the PediaTricks podcast to share more information about how their organization is working to meet this moment, and make mental health and suicide prevention a much easier subject to speak about openly. 

The Duck Cup Memorial Fund

The Duck Cup Memorial Fund is a non-profit organization founded in 2013 by a group of college friends after they lost one of their own close friends to suicide. Their mission is to end the stigma associated with mental health challenges, especially for young men, who are often the most likely to stay quiet even if they are suffering.

To help carry out its mission, Duck Cup has taken on various fundraising and awareness-raising initiatives, including speeches, webinars, and charity sporting events. They also host a weekly suicide grief support group in New Prague, MN, where the organization is based.

Their speaking engagements are what give them the best opportunity to engage with young people directly. Most events feature a mental health clinician and an individual with first-hand experience of mental health challenges in their own life. At the end of each event, the team gives out bracelets with the National Suicide Prevention Hotline number (formerly 800-273-TALK, now simply 988), to remind everyone that they are not alone.

Connecting Through Social Media

Like many organizations, Duck Cup uses technology and social media to facilitate connections between its network of staff, clinicians, and volunteers, and those who may need mental health assistance. Social media has long been thought to negatively impact teens’ mental health, but in truth, social media is not always the enemy. When done correctly, it’s a tool that can lead to quite positive outcomes.

Individuals looking to better connect with this issue can follow Duck Cup on their social media pages and ensure they’re up-to-date on the latest signs and symptoms of mental health challenges like anxiety, depression, and substance use disorder. This can help them be more aware if their loved ones are exhibiting similar signs.

Take Action

There are many ways to help organizations like Duck Cup make a difference in the lives of youth and teens. Here are some actions you can take today to join the fight against youth suicide.

  • Follow Duck Cup Memorial Fund on Facebook or Twitter
  • Connect Duck Cup to a local school, community, or business to encourage them to host a speaking engagement or fundraiser
  • Attend local events in your area
  • Donate to Duck Cup’s fundraising efforts
  • Subscribe to their email list
  • Check in with your friends and family regularly. Sometimes when someone says, “I’m fine,” it really means they’re not okay. 

Want to listen to the conversation in full? Check out the “Youth Suicide Prevention – When “Fine” Isn’t Fine” podcast to hear more.

If you or someone you know may be in a mental health crisis or is considering suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 or call 1-800-273-8255. The Crisis Lifeline is accessible 24 hours a day in both English and Spanish.

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