Connect, Engage, Empower!

12 Great Dates was created out of the growing need in my community to make a difference in the lives of teenagers struggling with #growinguploudoun. What does that mean? Our teenagers are feeling the pressure 24/7 today to be on task. The highest GPA’s, the best clothes, the most friends and likes on IG, the longest streak on Snapchat, perfect physical appearance and of course popularity. Combine that with the increasing expansion of technology in all of our lives, whether we are trying to limit their social media accounts, get them to turn off their phones at night or truthfully..looking at OUR OWN reliance on these devices to communicate! This program was designed for teen girls and a favorite adult in their life (parent, coach, aunt, family friend) to spend time together at fun events where we put our devices down and actually talk!

Here are some scary statistics.. (Statistic credit given to www.nimh.gov; www.cdc.gov; www.actionallianceforsuicideprevention.orgwww.surgeongeneral.gov)

So why are we focusing on talking and not texting or Social Media??

  • In Loudoun County there are 124,916 Total households (household is defined as one or two adults with related children in the home).  If we are looking for Under the poverty line there are 11.2% With related children of the householder under 18 years and 28.0% With related children of the householder under 5 years only. However 97.5% of ALL households have a computer and access to texting and social media!

However with Suicide rates rising…

  • Suicide was the tenth leading cause of death overall in the United States, claiming the lives of more than 44,000 people.
  • Suicide was the third leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 10 and 14, and the second leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 15 and 34.
  • There were more than twice as many suicides (44,193) in the United States as there were homicides (17,793).

The National Strategy for Suicide Prevention (National Strategy) emphasizes the important role that communities can play in suicide prevention.

  • It notes that a wide range of community partners (e.g., schools, workplaces, faith-based organizations, businesses, law enforcement, health care systems, and others), working together, can deliver prevention programs and services to high-risk groups at the local level, and that greater coordination among community and clinical preventive service providers can have synergistic effects in preventing suicide and related behaviors.

So how and Why is the community a key setting for suicide prevention?

  • Community-based programs can contribute by supporting the development of life skills and positive social connections that strengthen individuals and help them successfully navigate life’s challenges
  • Helping to identify persons who may be at risk for suicide and to connect them to appropriate sources of assistance and care
  • Developing linkages with clinical systems, health care providers, and programs in the community to ensure seamless and continuous care for individuals at risk

So we as a community are involving the following partners in our efforts:

  • Concerned and caring community members, including individuals with lived experience (e.g., suicide attempt survivors, persons bereaved by suicide)
  • Representatives from the public and private sectors, including the business community
  • Members of community-based organizations, including local crisis centers
  • Representatives from various settings serving diverse groups (e.g. schools, college campuses, workplaces, places of worship)
  • Representatives and leaders from health care and behavioral health care systems
  • The local and regional news media
  • Representatives from the local/state justice and corrections systems
  • First responders (e.g., law enforcement, emergency medical technicians)
  • Individuals representing and working with underserved and at-risk populations
  • Individuals who can advocate for changes in policies, systems, and environments that will help prevent and reduce suicide

Still not sure? Here are some additional numbers we’d like to share

Kids in 9-12th grades

  • 8.6 percent of youth in grades 9-12 reported that they had made at least one suicide attempt in the past 12 months. Girls attempted twice as often as boys (11.6% vs. 5.5%)
  • Males take their own lives at nearly four times the rate of females and represent 77.9% of all suicides.
  • Females are more likely than males to have suicidal thoughts.
  • 17.0% of students seriously considered attempting suicide in the previous 12 months (22.4% of females and 11.6% of males).
  • 13.6% of students made a plan about how they would attempt suicide in the previous 12 months (16.9% of females and 10.3% of males).
  •  2.7% of students made a suicide attempt that resulted in an injury, poisoning, or an overdose that required medical attention (3.6% of females and 1.8% of males).
  • The rates for females doubled from 2007 to 2017 (from 2.4 to 5.1).

But we KNOW from Research (see www.cdc.gov)

If students experience the opposite of some of the circumstances listed as risk factors (e.g. family support rather than family conflict; strong school connectedness rather than lack of connectedness), their risk for suicide-related behavior might be reduced. These types of circumstances/situations or behaviors are sometimes referred to as “protective factors.”

12 Great Dates is fulfilling a need of offering a “protective factor” of communication, connection and empowerment within the family and even greater, within the community!