Growing pressure on teenagers and a rise in suicides among young woman have prompted suicide prevention group Yellow Ribbon to bring their message to schools this year.
The Portadown-based charity is planning to develop education programmes for post-primary schools in the area, in a bid to address the complex problems facing young people.
At present, the group works mainly with adults and GP referrals.
Dr Arthur Cassidy, a psychologist and one of the charity’s eight volunteers, said young people aged 11-17 are the most vulnerable group.
He explained, “They face a number of problems. Internet trolling and revenge porn area quite prominent. This age group are also exploring their identity and looking for role models and often those role models are celebrities.
“The problem with this is that if the young person can’t be like that celebrity, it can lead to problems such as self-harming.”
Other problems include exam pressures, as well as parents’ inability to know how to deal with their teenagers
Dr Cassidy said Professor Siobhan O’Neill, from the University of Ulster, had done research into young women and found that over the past two years more were taking their own lives.
He said, “More young women are suffering from alcohol addiction, binge drinking, pre-loading (drinking before going out) and self-harming.
“The question is, how do we prevent this happening?” said Dr Cassidy.
He said he believes the key lies in education and talking to young people about the pressures they feel.
The aim would be to have one project worker for schools and another for vulnerable men and young women.
He said some school principals are still reluctant to host talks about suicide “because they feel it will cause it”. He added, “Young people need to know about it, and that it’s OK to talk about it.
“Parents are also going to their GPs, and telling them they don’t know how to dealt with the problems their children are facing.”
Yellow Ribbon is hoping for more funding for the work with schools . Any psychology graduates also wishing to help with this work should phone Dr Cassidy on 3833 1485.