Supporting Measures To Reduce Youth Suicide and Related High Risk Behaviors That Place Youth At Risk of Injury and/or Death, June 1, 1999

WHEREAS, suicide is the second leading cause of death for San Francisco youth 15 to 24 years of age; and,

WHEREAS, homicide is the leading cause of death for San Francisco youth 15 to 24 years of age; and,

WHEREAS, 38% of these suicides and 85% of these homicides involve firearms; and,

WHEREAS, the most recent Youth Risk Behavior Survey (1997) indicates that a significant number of San Francisco high school students report risky thoughts and behaviors, including thoughts of suicide (20%), and carrying a weapon during the last 30 days (19%); and,

WHEREAS, students report an increasing use of alcohol, with 18% of high school seniors indicating that they had five or more drinks on one occasion in the last 30 days; and,

WHEREAS, research indicates that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning youth, who are often more isolated by and from their peers, family and community, are up to three times more likely to attempt suicide than are heterosexual youth; and,

WHEREAS, suicidal impulses, depression, isolation, abuse and mental distress impair youth of all ethnicities, socioeconomic status and sexual orientation; and,

WHEREAS, national data indicate that on average, 14% to 20% of school-age children and youth experience significant mental health disorders that are associated with a wide range of serious risk taking behaviors, such as substance use/abuse, risky sexual activity, delinquency, truancy, and high speed and risky driving; and,

WHEREAS, reducing access to firearms will significantly reduce the likelihood that impulsive self-destructive urges and/or anger will result in a fatal outcome; and,

WHEREAS, a comprehensive, responsive and coordinated network of mental health and social services that identifies, supports and treats at-risk youth and their families, will prevent youth related injuries and death; and,

WHEREAS, currently available youth services are not always able to respond to the needs of youth and their families; and,

WHEREAS, it has been repeatedly demonstrated that timely identification, intervention, referral and treatment, works to save the lives of youth and adults who exhibit high risk harmful behaviors; and,

WHEREAS, representatives of the Department of Public Health, Youth Commission, Delinquency Prevention Commission, UCSF Medical School, youth, youth health providers and Suicide Prevention, Inc., formed an Ad Hoc Youth Suicide Prevention Study Group and reviewed existing assessments of San Francisco children and youth in relationship to available research and practical experience; and,

WHEREAS, this Ad Hoc Youth Suicide Prevention Study Group has concluded its review and has presented its findings and recommendations on how best to address the issue of youth suicide to the Health Commission; now, therefore, be it 

RESOLVED, that the Health Commission supports the recommendations of the Ad Hoc Youth Suicide Prevention Study Group that the City has before it a clear and present opportunity to improve the health and wellbeing of youth and their families through the following actions:

  1. Establish a common protocol for determining suicide risk, and then train youth providers, counselors, parents, teachers and clergy in its use, including risk sensitivity analysis and appropriate responses and follow-up;
  2. Improve communications among youth serving agencies so information can be efficiently shared, and individuals can be tracked over time;
  3. Expand the assessment, counseling and treatment services in all youth environments so that high-risk youth and their families can receive timely and relevant services;
  4. Implement a public/private partnership with managed care health service providers to ensure that all youth and their families can receive comprehensive, age appropriate services;
  5. Develop and implement procedures for the systematic and ongoing evaluation of youth focussed services to ensure that they meet the needs of all segments of youth, their families, and the community;
  6. Forcefully advocate for local, state and federal actions to limit the availability of firearms to youth;

and, be it

FURTHER RESOLVED that the Health Commission directs the Department of Public Health to incorporate youth suicide prevention as a high priority in its strategic direction for the new millennium; and, be it

FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Health Commission recommends to the Board of Supervisors its support for the findings and recommendations included in the Briefing Report, and the Departments efforts to collaborate with other City Departments, community-based agencies, youth, parents and residents to improve the health and wellbeing of youth and their families.

I hereby certify that the foregoing resolution was adopted by the San Francisco Health Commission at its meeting of Tuesday, June 1, 1999.

Sandy Ouye Mori, Executive Secretary to the Health Commission