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Julie Cerel - Youth Suicide Prevention

Julie Cerel, a licensed clinical psychologist and professor in the College of Social Work at the University of Kentucky, talks about the rise in youth suicide and tools to help a person in crisis.
Season 14 Episode 29 Length 26:32 Premiere: 05/19/19

Effective Tools for Youth Suicide Prevention

Suicide isn’t always linked to a diagnosed mental health issue like depression or anxiety. Sometimes it’s the result of a confluence of routine life stressors that can push a person to his or her breaking point.

Some 47,000 Americans take their own lives each year. Young people are especially vulnerable: suicide is the second leading cause of death among youth aged 15 to 24.

As KET begins a rebroadcast of its acclaimed youth mental health series You Are Not Alone, Renee Shaw sat down with Julie Cerel, a licensed clinical psychologist and professor in the College of Social Work at the University of Kentucky, to discuss her research into suicide.

Factors Contributing to Higher Suicide Rates
Between 2000 and 2016, the rate of death by suicide in the United States increased 30 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Historically more males commit suicide, but females are catching up: Suicides among women and girls increased by 50 percent in that time period.

“Fortunately most people that make one attempt will never, ever go on to make another one,” says Cerel. “But having had that one attempt, it puts some at higher risk” of dying by suicide in the future.

Cerel says they may be a number of reasons for the increase. One is that health officials are more open about acknowledging suicide as a cause of death.

“It used to be that unless there was really explicit evidence that it was a suicide,” says Cerel, “coroners or medical examiners wouldn’t call it a suicide because they thought it was helping the family.”

Media may also play a role. Cerel says coverage of celebrity suicides, especially stories that contain details of the methods used, can influence suicidal behavior in others. Some mental health professionals also attribute a recent Netflix series to a spike in suicides. Cerel says “13 Reasons Why” offered an unrealistic view of suicide that depicts how a young girl sought to use her own death as a form of revenge against the people who tormented her.

“Unfortunately when most people are suicidal, their thinking is not as systematic and clear, they just want to be out of the pain that they’ve been in,” says Cerel.

Other factors include the rise of the internet and social media, lack of access to quality health care and mental health services, and greater availability of more lethal means of death, such as weapons in the home.

“This isn’t about gun control per se,” says Cerel. “It’s more about not wanting anyone in your household, especially your child, to die by your family’s gun.”

How to Respond to Someone at Risk
The signs that someone may be considering suicide are varied. The person may begin to isolate themselves from friends and loved ones, or they may give away prized possessions. There may be increased drug or alcohol use, or their personal appearance or work or school performance may suddenly decline. They may talk about feeling hopeless or being mired in unbearable pain.

If you see these signs in a family member or friend, a co-worker or a neighbor, Cerel recommends taking a direct approach and saying, “You’ve really been scaring me. Are you thinking about suicide?”

Then you’ll need to be prepared to direct that person towards resources to help them. Cerel recommends keeping the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline emergency number in your cellphone. It’s 800-273-8255. She says operators there can provide referrals to local resources, do short-term crisis counseling, or address an actual emergency. Crisis counselors are also available by texting 741741.

Cerel acknowledges these conversations aren’t easy. Even saying the word suicide is difficult for some people. But the more comfortable we get with the language, the easier it becomes to openly discuss these critical issues, she says. Some communities and organizations offer special training in a prevention strategy named QPR, which stands for question, persuade, and refer, that any individual can take.

Life Beyond a Loss
Based on her own research, Cerel says a single suicide can impact the lives of 135 other people, from relatives and friends, to people at school, church, and work. But Cerel says she’s found that survivors can find ways to move beyond the tragedy.

“For some people, having this worst imaginable loss leads them to place in their lives they never would have been,” says Cerel. “It doesn’t necessarily mean that their life is going to be horrible forever and ever. They can end up in places much better than they might have dreamed.”

Cerel says certain occupations come with greater risk factors for mental health problems and suicide risk. For example, police and other first responders may have to deal with dozens of suicide cases over their careers. Cerel says that kind of exposure can increase the risk of suicidal behavior in the witness.

Following the death of celebrity chef and travel journalist Anthony Bourdain, Cerel and her colleagues launched initiatives to help people in the food service industry. She says the high-stress lifestyle with its irregular hours, little access to health care, and high rates of substance abuse can make restaurant workers especially vulnerable. Cerel contends such outreach efforts are critical to increasing the public dialogue about suicide.

“It’s important for us to talk about the fact that there are people that have thoughts of suicide or have made suicide attempts, and that doesn’t define the rest of their lives,” Cerel says. “People can be successful, having been treated for depression or having attempted suicide… Just because people have mental illnesses, just like physical illnesses, they don’t have to define our lives.”

Related Content:

Suicide Prevention/Teaching Hope

Helping Kentucky’s Youth with Mental Health Problems

Building Effective Programs to Improve Mental Health

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Kentucky Edition host Renee Shaw in a green dress with the logo superimposed over the image along with a CHECK SCHEDULE button.Kentucky Edition host Renee Shaw in a green dress with the set behind her and the logo superimposed over the image along with a CHECK SCHEDULE button.

Season 14 Episodes

The 'I Was Here' Project

S14 E36 Length 27:42 Premiere Date 08/04/19

Mike Runyon and Sherita Miller; Wendy Kobler

S14 E35 Length 26:57 Premiere Date 07/28/19

Filmmaker Lynn Novick

S14 E33 Length 28:27 Premiere Date 07/14/19

Brent Hutchinson; Christine Thompson - Education

S14 E32 Length 27:37 Premiere Date 07/07/19

Lieutenant Governor Jenean Hampton - Youth Mental Health

S14 E31 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 06/02/19

Julie Cerel - Youth Suicide Prevention

S14 E29 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 05/19/19

Dale Suttles - Sunrise Children's Services

S14 E28 Length 27:33 Premiere Date 05/12/19

Education in Rural Eastern Kentucky

S14 E27 Length 28:13 Premiere Date 05/05/19

Joshua A. Douglas - Voting Rights Reform

S14 E25 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 04/21/19

Jay Box - Ky. Community & Technical College System

S14 E24 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 04/14/19

Author and Life Coach Colene Elridge

S14 E23 Length 26:19 Premiere Date 04/07/19

FIRST STEP Act - Criminal Justice Reform

S14 E22 Length 27:44 Premiere Date 03/31/19

Cheryl A. Oldham

S14 E21 Length 26:38 Premiere Date 02/22/19

Linda Hampton - Early Childhood

S14 E20 Length 29:47 Premiere Date 02/15/19

Donald Mason

S14 E19 Length 26:34 Premiere Date 02/08/19

Community Action Council; First 5 Lex

S14 E18 Length 28:53 Premiere Date 02/01/19

Seamus Carey

S14 E17 Length 26:57 Premiere Date 01/25/19

Michael Benson

S14 E16 Length 27:32 Premiere Date 01/18/19

Dr. Aaron Thompson

S14 E14 Length 28:13 Premiere Date 01/11/19

Mary Todd Lincoln and Lincoln Lexington Walking Tour

S14 E13 Length 28:55 Premiere Date 12/14/18

Youth Suicide

S14 E12 Length 29:22 Premiere Date 12/07/18

Jean Schumm and Amanda Gale

S14 E11 Length 28:22 Premiere Date 11/16/18

M. Christopher Brown II

S14 E10 Length 28:02 Premiere Date 11/09/18

Frank Harris

S14 E9 Length 25:17 Premiere Date 11/02/18

U.S. Rep. Andy Barr

S14 E8 Length 29:16 Premiere Date 10/26/18

Amy McGrath

S14 E7 Length 29:02 Premiere Date 10/19/18

Kevin Chapman - Youth Mental Health

S14 E6 Length 28:47 Premiere Date 10/12/18

Carol Cecil; Resa Gonzalez - Youth Mental Health

S14 E5 Length 26:03 Premiere Date 10/05/18

Joe Bargione - Youth Mental Health

S14 E4 Length 28:57 Premiere Date 09/28/18

WKU President Timothy Caboni

S14 E3 Length 28:40 Premiere Date 09/21/18

Dr. Neeli Bendapudi

S14 E1 Length 28:47 Premiere Date 09/14/18

See All Episodes

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Betty Baye

Premiered On: 09/06/2013

Former Louisville "Courier-Journal" columnist and editorial writer Betty Baye discusses her career and columns, new paradigms of journalism, the impact of digital media, and her future projects.

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  • Wednesday March 15, 2023 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday March 15, 2023 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday March 15, 2023 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Terry Brooks - Kentucky Youth Advocates - S15 E6

  • Tuesday March 14, 2023 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday March 14, 2023 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday March 14, 2023 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday March 14, 2023 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Chelsea Ellis-Hogan - S17 E9

  • Monday March 13, 2023 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday March 13, 2023 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday March 13, 2023 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Monday March 13, 2023 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Author Emily Bingham - S18 E11

  • Sunday March 19, 2023 8:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Sunday March 19, 2023 7:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Saturday March 18, 2023 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Saturday March 18, 2023 3:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Sunday March 12, 2023 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Sunday March 12, 2023 3:30 pm CT on KETKY

Devine Carama - S17 E7

  • Friday March 10, 2023 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday March 10, 2023 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday March 10, 2023 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday March 10, 2023 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday March 10, 2023 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Friday March 10, 2023 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Rufus Friday - S17 E6

  • Thursday March 9, 2023 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Thursday March 9, 2023 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Thursday March 9, 2023 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Thursday March 9, 2023 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Whitney Austin - Reducing Gun Violence - S17 E4

  • Wednesday March 8, 2023 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday March 8, 2023 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday March 8, 2023 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday March 8, 2023 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Filmmaker Sarah Burns - S17 E3

  • Tuesday March 7, 2023 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday March 7, 2023 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday March 7, 2023 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday March 7, 2023 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Kathy Werking; Jim Embry - S16 E37

  • Monday March 6, 2023 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday March 6, 2023 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday March 6, 2023 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday March 6, 2023 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday March 6, 2023 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Monday March 6, 2023 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Restoring American Democracy - S18 E9

  • Sunday March 12, 2023 8:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Sunday March 12, 2023 7:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Saturday March 11, 2023 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Saturday March 11, 2023 3:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Sunday March 5, 2023 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Sunday March 5, 2023 3:30 pm CT on KETKY

Kentucky Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack - S16 E36

  • Friday March 3, 2023 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday March 3, 2023 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday March 3, 2023 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday March 3, 2023 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday March 3, 2023 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Friday March 3, 2023 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Pastor Edward Palmer - Racial Bias and Juvenile Justice Reform - S15 E2

  • Thursday March 2, 2023 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Thursday March 2, 2023 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Thursday March 2, 2023 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Thursday March 2, 2023 4:30 am CT on KETKY

The Demands and Rewards of Fatherhood - S16 E33

  • Wednesday March 1, 2023 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday March 1, 2023 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday March 1, 2023 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday March 1, 2023 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Psychologist Julie Cerel - S16 E32

  • Tuesday February 28, 2023 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday February 28, 2023 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday February 28, 2023 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday February 28, 2023 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Central Kentucky Chefs - Samantha Fore and Isaiah Screetch - S18 E21

  • Tuesday February 28, 2023 5:00 am ET on KET
  • Tuesday February 28, 2023 4:00 am CT on KET
  • Sunday February 26, 2023 6:00 pm ET on KET2
  • Sunday February 26, 2023 5:00 pm CT on KET2
  • Sunday February 26, 2023 12:00 pm ET on KET
  • Sunday February 26, 2023 11:00 am CT on KET

Affrilachian Poet Frank X Walker - S18 E20

  • Monday March 6, 2023 6:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday March 6, 2023 5:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday March 6, 2023 10:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Monday March 6, 2023 9:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Monday March 6, 2023 1:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Monday March 6, 2023 12:30 am CT on KETKY
  • Sunday March 5, 2023 5:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Sunday March 5, 2023 4:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Sunday March 5, 2023 8:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Sunday March 5, 2023 7:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Sunday March 5, 2023 12:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Saturday March 4, 2023 11:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday March 3, 2023 11:30 pm ET on KET2
  • Friday March 3, 2023 10:30 pm CT on KET2
  • Friday March 3, 2023 8:00 pm ET on KET
  • Friday March 3, 2023 7:00 pm CT on KET
  • Saturday February 25, 2023 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Saturday February 25, 2023 3:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday February 22, 2023 4:30 am ET on KET
  • Wednesday February 22, 2023 3:30 am CT on KET
  • Tuesday February 21, 2023 5:00 am ET on KET
  • Tuesday February 21, 2023 4:00 am CT on KET

Terrance Sullivan - S16 E8

  • Friday February 24, 2023 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday February 24, 2023 9:30 pm CT on KETKY

Restaurateur and Chef Ouita Michel - S16 E31

  • Monday February 27, 2023 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday February 27, 2023 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday February 24, 2023 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday February 24, 2023 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday February 24, 2023 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Friday February 24, 2023 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Sarah Taylor Vanover - Early Childhood Education - S16 E29

  • Thursday February 23, 2023 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Thursday February 23, 2023 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Thursday February 23, 2023 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Thursday February 23, 2023 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Cynthia Knapek - Leadership Louisville Center - S16 E27

  • Wednesday February 22, 2023 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday February 22, 2023 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday February 22, 2023 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday February 22, 2023 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Vaccine Equity and Hesitancy - S16 E26

  • Tuesday February 21, 2023 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday February 21, 2023 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday February 21, 2023 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday February 21, 2023 4:30 am CT on KETKY

EKU Criminal Justice Professor Pete Kraska - S16 E23

  • Monday February 20, 2023 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday February 20, 2023 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
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