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Youth Suicide Prevention Conference Takes Place Friday, September 16

Friday, September 16, 2011
Unveils “I Am The Difference” social marketing campaign

Media Contact: Phyllis Jones
(202) 673-1937 (desk) 202. 631.3077 (mobile)
[email protected]

Mayor Vincent C. Gray will participate in a citywide conference on youth suicide prevention on Friday, September 16, 2011 expected to attract hundreds of workers from government agencies and community groups who come in contact daily with young people. Sponsored by Capital CARES (Citywide Alliance to Reduce Risk for and Eliminate Youth Suicide), a project of the District Department of Mental Health, the conference takes place from 9 am to 4:30 pm at Gallaudet University, Kellogg Conference Center, 800 Florida Avenue NE.

The conference will explore the link of risk factors to youth suicidal behavior, call on agencies and individuals to take all talk of suicide seriously, and discuss ways to connect those at risk of suicide to treatment.  Capital CARES also is launching a new social marketing campaign called “I Am The Difference” that encourages youth and young adults to take care of themselves and their friends by treating any talk of suicide seriously.

Suicide is the 11th leading cause of all deaths in the United States and the third leading cause among young people 15 to 24 years of age.  “Though the number of completed suicides is low in the District, one suicide death is too many,” said Mayor Gray.  Nearly twice as many high school students in the District compared to the national average reported an attempted suicide in a 2010 survey by the Centers for Disease Control.

Many District youth experience risk factors associated with suicide including exposure to violence, trauma, poverty, incarceration and substance abuse.  A key part of the District’s strategy to prevent suicide is to train people who regularly come in contact with young people   to recognize the warning signs of suicide and how to respond.  Capital Cares has trained more than 1,000 people including workers from Child and Family Services, the Department of Parks and Recreation, and the Department of Mental Health. In addition, through the DC Youth Suicide Prevention Coalition, hundreds of youth and their families have participated in suicide prevention activities.

“A great many suicides are preventable”, said Stephen T. Baron, Director of the Mental Health Department.  “We have a number of services to make it easy for persons at risk for suicide to get life-saving help.”

The Department supports a 24/7 emergency crisis service for youth experiencing a psychiatric or emotional crisis.  Teams of mental health clinicians respond to emergency calls whether in school, the home or community.  In addition, trained mental health counselors are available by phone 24/7 on the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. The Department also offers ongoing prevention and clinical services to youth and their families.  To enroll in services or for more information, call 1-888-793-4357. 

Capital CARES provides suicide and mental health screenings in schools and in the community with parental consent, trains adults to recognize when a youth is at risk, and funds community based suicide prevention programs for youth with demographic and/or behavioral risk factors for suicide.  

For more information about suicide warning signs and what to do, go to

Capital CARES is funded by the federal Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)