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life promotion | youth suicide | Terezia Farkas | author | Beliefnet

What is life promotion and how does it reduce youth suicides?

Life promotion for youth is a new approach to preventing youth suicides. Youth life promotion is based on the belief that all young people are capable of finding their own path to a holistic and meaningful life.

Youth have critical role in suicide prevention

Many adults are separated from what it means to be a youth today. Youth is different now than it was years ago. So youth suicide prevention programs have to come from a new viewpoint – that of the youth themselves.

“When young people feel that they’re part of something bigger than their problems, they actually feel more supported and they’re at less risk for a whole bunch of things, including suicide,” according to CAMH psychologist Joanna Henderson.

“Our policies haven’t caught up with changes in technology to allow us to use that in a way that’s helpful for youth. For example, health organizations typically require people to book appointments by phone, but teens are often more comfortable communicating by text or social media.”

Young people have unique strengths and potential. Each and every one of them will have different ideas of what it means to live a good life. Each person will have different way of achieving that too. Life promotion sets the goal of helping young people do just that:  find that place where they’re able to flourish despite the challenges they face.

Life promotion is holistic

Life promotion is holistic. It’s a strengths-based and empowerment focused program. It tries to honour young people’s individuality and build their resilience through their personal strengths, available resources and relationships with those around them. Life promotion also includes heritage and cultural values. This relationship between where a youth comes from and where he or she wants to go in life is important. It resonates particularly well with First Nations Peoples because in their culture it’s the community that raises the youth.

Life promotion doesn’t focus on reducing suicide rates

Suicide prevention has to be more than just focusing on preventing a death. It has to have long term goals and meaning for the person. That’s why life promotion doesn’t focus on reducing suicide rates.

Instead, life promotion focuses on cultivating the strongest possible safeguards against suicide – young people’s sense of belonging, meaning, purpose and hope. Focusing on life and the hope and possibilities ahead is what’s needed in the long term prevention of youth suicide.

You need to know someone will hear you

For youth suicide prevention efforts to have a lasting impact, the programs have to be what youth consider as important. Youth want to talk about suicide. Suicide isn’t an ugly word or something that should be kept secret. Youth want to break that stigma.

Youth also want psychologists or counsellors in schools, so that when a person is considering suicide, they know they have someone to help them. Knowing that someone will hear you, and is there for you, takes you from hopelessness to survival mode, and then towards hope.

Places to get help

Kids Help Phone:  1-800-668-6868

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