Archives for posts with tag: suicide

Not everyone is as lucky as Benjamin. If the man had not reached out to him, Benjamin would not be alive. At that moment on the bridge a lifeline was extended to an individual who was feeling hopeless and helpless. The message that resonates with me is how important it is to stay connected to our friends and that it’s okay to make new ones. It’s okay to help a stranger. Minding your own business is not an option when it comes to saving a life. Suicide is almost always a result of an underlying illness, depression. People who are suffering from depression need support, need desperately to feel connected, even if they disconnect. Let’s make a conscious effort to stay connected.

To read the full NEW YORKER MAGAZINE ”The Neglected  Suicide Epidemic” article click here




The Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) recently granted funds to Elyssa’s Mission in support of our mission to provide resources to support at-risk teens and prevent suicide.

We at Elyssa’s mission are very grateful to the Trader’s Foundation for its generous donation. As a Board Member of Elyssa’s Mission, and a 25-year veteran of the CBOT, it is especially gratifying to play a role in the partnership of two organizations that mean so much to me.


According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Chicago leads the nation in teen suicide attempts, with 15.8% of Chicagoland teens reporting that they’d attempted suicide one or more times in the past year.  It is up to us—parents, school staff and community members—to help identify the warning signs before it is too late.

Here are some signs that the teens in your life might be at risk for depression or suicide:

  • Frequent sadness, tearfulness, crying
  • Hopelessness
  • Difficulty with relationships
  • Increased irritability, anger, or hostility
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Marked personality change
  • Change in eating and/or sleeping habits
  • Frequent absences from school and/or poor school performance

The following signs of suicide demand IMMEDIATE ATTENTION: 

  • Talking or writing about suicide or death
  • Giving direct or indirect verbal cues that life is meaningfulness (e.g., “I wish I were dead;” “What’s the point of living?”)
  • Neglecting appearance and hygiene
  • Isolating from friends and family
  • Obtaining a weapon or other means of hurting self
  • Giving away prized possessions
  • Exhibiting a sudden and unexplained improvement in mood after being depressed or withdrawn
  • Dropping out of school or social, athletic or other activities

If you observe any of these signs, do not leave the teen alone.  Immediately call 911 or seek professional assistance.

To learn more, please visit our website at

Whether teens express thoughts of suicide in a text message, a conversation after school, or Facebook chat, they often confide in their peers. When a friend opens up and shares such powerful feelings, it can be tempting to keep their secret. No one wants to betray the confidence of a friend, especially one in such a vulnerable place–but it is imperative that teenagers understand the life or death importance of reaching out for help when a friend shares suicidal thoughts.

Breaking the silence and encouraging teens to seek help from parents and professionals are two cornerstones of Elyssa’s Mission’s work in the field of suicide prevention and education. Elyssa’s Mission trains secondary school staff to deliver the SOS Signs of Suicide® Program, an evidence-based program shown to reduce self-reported suicide attempts by 40% (BMC Public Health 2007). The SOS program combines an educational, discussion-based component with screening to identify teens who are depressed and help them get treatment, subsequently preventing suicide.

Adolescence is an especially vulnerable time.  It can truly take a village to provide support for teens struggling with thoughts of suicide and depression. Through the SOS program, teenagers learn that they are not alone. Elyssa’s Mission provides the resources to support at risk teens and prevent suicide, ultimately, Creating a Safer Today for our Youth®.

To learn more about the SOS Signs of Suicide program, please visit our website at

Parents of teenagers may be surprised to learn that, despite the occasional disagreement, two-thirds of teens go to bed when they are supposed to. A recent study of over 15,000 students in grades 7 through 12 shows that early bedtimes are worth parental perseverance: researchers at Columbia University found that adolescents with a bedtime of midnight or later were 24% more likely to be depressed and 20% more likely to have thoughts of suicide than those with a strict 10 p.m. lights out.

While it has long been accepted that teenagers need about 9 hours of sleep per night for optimal health and development, survey participants reported average sleep duration of only 7 hours and 53 minutes. Researchers found that later bedtimes were associated with shorter sleep duration and the perception of getting inadequate sleep. Over time, partial sleep deprivation can result in impaired judgment, concentration, and impulse control as well as moodiness. All of these factors can contribute to difficulty reacting appropriately to stressful life circumstances as well as trouble maintaining supportive relationships with parents and peers. The deterioration of these relationships has been shown to be associated with depression.

While sleep difficulties are usually seen as a symptom of depression rather than as the cause, this study indicates that short sleep duration could indeed play a role in causing depression. Earlier set bedtimes help lengthen sleep duration, which could be protective against adolescent depression and thoughts of suicide. Parents are paramount in helping their children develop healthy habits, and emphasizing the importance of a reasonable bedtime is just one way to have a positive impact.

The full text of the study, “Earlier Parental Set Bedtimes as a Protective Factor Against Depression and Suicidal Ideation,” is available on the website of the journal Sleep.

– Alicia B. Johnston, Elyssa’s Mission Volunteer

Kudos to Aptakisic Junior High, the first school to help Elyssa’s Mission raise funds for their organization. We were so grateful and honored to be chosen as the recipients of their fund-raising event. What impressed me most are the leadership skills of an eighth grade student, Leah. It was her idea to turn an annual talent show into a fund-raiser for our mission. Students brought baked goods to sell at the event. Parents came out to support their children. School-staff donated a dollar each time they wore Blue Jeans to school. Eighteen courageous students displayed their talent in the Annual Mosaic Variety Show. They sang, danced, and played instruments in front of their peers and community members. I applaud their talent. And I applaud a young leader whose talent lies in bringing a community together to raise awareness and much needed funds for an important topic. She is truly making a difference.

– Joanne Meyers, President

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