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DSS looks to ‘change minds’ on youth suicide

For Immediate Release:  Wednesday, September 2, 2020
Media Contact: Steve Long, steve.long@state.sd.us or 605.773.5465

DSS looks to ‘change minds’ on youth suicide 

PIERRE – “Change my mind” is the main message behind the youth suicide prevention campaign recently kicked off through BeThe1SD, a joint effort between the South Dakota Department of Social Services (DSS) and Department of Health (DOH).

“One small effort can help change the mind of someone considering suicide,” said DSS Cabinet Secretary Laurie Gill. “While South Dakota has been pushing hard on youth suicide prevention for a number of years, we have to take a bold tone because the stakes are just too high. South Dakota’s kids are too important to let suicides continue unchecked.”

The 2019 South Dakota Youth Risk Behavior Survey shows nearly one in four South Dakota high school students seriously considered suicide while 12.3 percent actually attempted suicide. In response, BeThe1SD has stepped up to curb those numbers. 

The BeThe1SD campaign encourages youth to learn more about what they can do to help change someone’s mind when they are considering suicide. By providing resources, students and young adults can be prepared if they or someone they know is ever confronted with thoughts of suicide.

In 2018, according to DOH, suicide was the second leading cause of death for South Dakotans ages 10-39 years old. “That’s why this campaign is so important,” said DOH Cabinet Secretary Kim Malsam-Rysdon. “It truly can save lives.”

The BeThe1SD campaign specifically targets South Dakota youth and young adults, ages 10 to 24. It has been set to run during the fall in order to reach students who may struggle with returning to school. The heaviest promotion will happen in September, which is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.

“We continue working vigorously using a multi-pronged approach to suicide prevention and saving lives,” said Gill. “This campaign is one part of our ongoing effort.  And we hope that many South Dakotans will be the one that steps up to help friends, family, and neighbors, if they see the warning signs.  One person really can make a difference.”

The main campaign efforts include television, radio, outdoor, social media, and online advertisements.

Visit BeThe1SD.com to learn how to know when someone is considering suicide, how you can help, and how to reach out to someone who is struggling. For immediate assistance, call 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) for help. All calls are confidential.