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New statewide campaign aims to reduce youth suicide in Nevada

A group of students and teachers stand next to Governor Steve Sisolak as they smile for a photo.
Lucretia Cunningham
KUNR Public Radio
Students and teachers from Clark High School’s Hope Squad stand with Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak on Aug. 11, 2022, in Las Vegas.

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact Crisis Support Services of Nevada by texting the word CARE to 839863 or visiting cssnv.org.

Suicide is the second-leading cause of death for Nevada youth aged 8 to 24. Now, a new statewide effort called the Nevada Suicide Prevention Campaign is connecting families with free resources.

State officials are reporting an upward trend in youth suicides. Historically ranking 23rd in the nation for suicide deaths in youth under 17, Nevada now ranks 18th based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These alarming statistics are one reason Clark High School senior Izabella Harju said they joined Clark’s Hope Squad two years ago.

“I know how it feels to be in their position, to not know who to go to, what to do,” Harju said. “I immediately just wanted to be able to be a resource to literally anybody who didn’t have the resources to go to a therapist or something like that.”

In-school peer support groups like the Hope Squad are trained to direct teens in crisis to the right resources and someone – who isn’t a teacher or parent – to talk to. The nonprofit Hope Means Nevada announced the campaign Thursday. Its website, mentalhealthresourcesNV.org, includes an online self-assessment and points teens to Summit Behavioral Health locations in Reno and Las Vegas, where they can walk in for free services.

During the launch, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak commended the Hope Squad for its dedication. The governor is planning to propose another $50 million to the state legislature to combat the issue.

“You don’t know the lives that you’re potentially going to save, but your actions and your words and your examples set a standard for all of us to strive to achieve,” he said.

SilverSummit Healthplan donated $1.5 million to fund this awareness campaign, which runs through October.

Lucretia Cunningham is a former contributing reporter at KUNR Public Radio.
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