Baltimore, MD—The Maryland Department of Health (MDH) today announced the launch of a new Youth Suicide Prevention Toolkit and MD Young Minds, two new resources designed to support teens and adolescents who may be struggling with mental health issues. MDH’s Behavioral Health Administration (BHA) developed the new resources to help Maryland youth find mental health support.
“Engaging directly with young people struggling with mental health issues and putting more tools in the hands of individuals who work with them are critical interventions that can save lives,” said MDH Secretary Dennis R. Schrader. “The new Youth Suicide Prevention Toolkit and MD Young Minds initiatives are preventive and timely measures to help support our youth.”
In Maryland, one in five teens considered attempting suicide in the past year, according to the 2021 Maryland Youth Pandemic Behavior Survey. Recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data show that emergency room visits for suspected suicide attempts increased among adolescents during the pandemic, while mental health-related emergency room visits for children ages 12 to 17 also increased by 31 percent from 2019 to 2020.
As a response, BHA’s Office of Suicide Prevention worked with partners including the Maryland Association of Student Councils, Maryland Youth Advisory Council, Carroll County Local Management Board and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Baltimore to develop the Youth Suicide Prevention Toolkit. The new toolkit is designed to be disseminated among adults who work with youth and offers extensive resources, guidance and fact sheets on a variety of topics:
- Engaging youth and young adults in suicide prevention
- Best practices in LGBT+ youth suicide prevention
- Substance use disorders and suicidal behaviors in adolescents
- Depression screening
- Preventing suicide as a teacher and school mental health professional
- Social media and suicide prevention
- Advice for teens to check in with friends and peers
- Guidance to support students who lose a friend or classmate to suicide
- Targeted local and national resources
“Suicidal behaviors are complex and involve many contributing factors—sometimes stressful life circumstances can serve as a tipping point,” said BHA Deputy Secretary Dr. Aliya Jones. “All of our young people will benefit from increased support during the pandemic. And we have found that two populations, particularly in need of attention, are our LGBTQ youth and young people who are using alcohol and drugs.”
To reach Maryland youth directly, MDH also launched MD Young Minds, an extension of the mental health outreach texting program MD Mind Health. Developed by BHA’s Office of Suicide Prevention, texts sent through the program provide supportive, youth-focused mental health messages and remind recipients that immediate access to mental health services is available statewide.
To download the Youth Suicide Prevention Toolkit, visit BHA’s website. To sign up for MD Young Minds, text MDYOUNGMINDS to 898-211.
People experiencing thoughts of suicide should contact Maryland’s helpline by calling 211 and pressing 1, texting 898-211, or visiting pressone.211md.org.