Newsroom > DHHS News Release

May 17, 2011

Marla Augustine, Communications and Legislative Services, (402) 471-4047 or

Candlelight Vigil for Children’s Mental Health Awareness Month

Lincoln—A candlelight vigil and remembrance ceremony will be held Friday, May 20, at 4 p.m. at the Bryan/LGH Medical Center East Plaza Conference Center in Lincoln. May is Children’s Mental Health Awareness Month.

“The remembrance ceremony is to recognize those children who have suffered with serious mental disorders and those who we have lost to suicide,” said Scot L. Adams, director of the Division of Behavioral Health in the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.

From 1998 – 2007, there were 189 Nebraskans age 10 – 19 years old who died from suicide. For the same time period, suicide was the third leading cause of death for 10 – 14 year olds, and the second leading cause of death for 15 – 19 year olds. For 2004 – 2007, Nebraska’s suicide rates for youth age 19 and under were higher than national rates. The U.S. rate for that age group was 2.18 per 100,000 population, while the Nebraska rate was 4.09 per 100,000.

DHHS is in its second year of a federal three-year grant ($500,000 per year) focusing on youth suicide prevention. Project goals include screening high risk youth, training specialists to recognize and intervene, building local communities, assisting emergency rooms in implementing life-saving protocols for youth, and military outreach. DHHS is working on this grant in partnership with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Public Policy Center, Interchurch Ministries and the State Suicide Prevention Coalition to support communities in their efforts to promote mental health, suicide awareness and reduce unnecessary deaths.

“Emotional and mental health disorders in children and youth are treatable,” Adams said. “In some instances, the child may need services such as counseling or mentoring to restore a sense of mental or emotional well-being. Families need to know that there are resources available to them to help.”

Parents of children with mental health needs can contact the Nebraska Family Helpline at (888) 866-8660. It is available 24 hours a day, staffed by trained personnel who can talk to the families and connect them with resources. Parents may be referred to Family Navigator Services. Family Navigators are people who have experience with children and teens with mental health needs. Another resource is the Network of Care website at This website can provide information about services, medications, insurance, pending legislation and research about behavioral health.

Another option is the National Suicide Hotline at (888) 273-TALK.

The vigil is sponsored by the Nebraska Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health and Families Inspiring Families, in collaboration with the Local Outreach to Suicide Survivors (LOSS) national conference.