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Program seeks to prevent teen suicides

Stats paint stark picture of importance of awareness, prevention techniques

September 11, 2012
By Josh Moniz - Staff Writer , The Journal

NEW ULM Tackling the tough issue of suicide was the focus of a program the New Ulm Youth Council hosted Monday through a sponsorship by Healthy Communities Healthy Youth.

Guest speaker Emily Kelley, a certified Yellow Ribbon presenter with the Brown County Yellow Ribbon program, focused on the need for people to reach out to teens in depression or at risk for suicide. She explained that it was more difficult for youth to cope with their emotions because they lack the experience and perspective of adults. She emphasized the need to listen to your gut when somebody needs to be reached out to about problems.

Statistics on teen suicide rates paint a stark picture of the importance of suicide awareness. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for youth in Minnesota, according to Suicide Awareness Voices of Education. Twenty-five percent of ninth-graders in the state have thought of killing themselves and/or have hurt themselves on purpose, according to Suicide Awareness. An estimated 5 million youth suffer with depression each year.

Article Photos

Staff photo by Josh Moniz
Emily Kelley, a certified Yellow Ribbon speaker, provide the presentation for the suicide awareness program hosted Monday by the New Ulm Youth Council.

The program focused on identifying risk factors associated with possible suicide attempts and the best ways to talk through difficult times.

Kelley said that tragedies, such as the death of a loved one or pet, or losses, such as the end of a relationship, heavily increased the chance of somebody thinking about suicide, particularly with teens. She said that continual stress could also be a big contributor, whether it's direct like bullying or indirect like financial problems.

She said there were several signs to watch for to indicate suicidal thoughts, such as dramatic mood swings or an inability to perform tasks outside of simply making it through the day. Sometimes the signs are as obvious as the person saying they are thinking of taking their life. Because people often have problems dealing with something so direct, they tend to dismiss the statements as not serious.

Kelley instructed those in attendance to always be willing to talk with those who need help. Talking with those in need went a long way. She also instructed people to not be afraid to consult somebody more experienced for help. Similarly, she suggested that people keep in mind the robust resources already available through the Yellow Ribbon program.

Kelley said she was impressed by the initiative of the New Ulm Youth Council, through its Healthy Communities Healthy Youth sponsorship, to pull together the event. She said the local teens were the driving factor that organized the program.

An associated Walk for Hope event will be held at 10 a.m., Saturday at Allison Park in Sleepy Eye.

To contact the Brown County Yellow Ribbon for further information, questions or donations visit or via e-mail at

(Josh Moniz can be e-mailed at



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