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California has a new youth suicide prevention campaign. Here's what to know.

A look at California's new youth suicide prevention campaign
A look at California's new youth suicide prevention campaign 02:12

SACRAMENTO — When it comes to youth, suicide continues to be one of the leading causes of death. It's so serious that the California Department of Public Health has launched a new campaign to fight it.

Shailen Dawkins knows suicide is a huge problem, so when he heard about the Never A Bother campaign, he was all in on its mission.

Dawkins is one of the more than 400 young Californians who shared their thoughts, feelings, and perspectives on how to best reach the younger generation with the campaign.

"We really had a say in how the campaign looked and the messaging," he said. "Even down to simple things like colors on the website or how the website flowed."

Matt Cervantes is with the Sierra Health Foundation, one of the organizations involved. He said the campaign will be pushed out via traditional advertising, social media, and community outreach strategies to reach young Californians.

A big focus will be on populations they say are disproportionally impacted by suicide.

"That's the beautiful part of this campaign. It's youth-centered," Cervantes said. "It's providing and meeting young people where they're at, and they're part of the campaign themselves. The spokespeople – they're producing content on social media, helping raise visibility."

The hope is that the campaign gives youth a message that help is out there – that they deserve it – and where to find it.

"There have been a lot of times, especially when I was younger, where I just didn't know what to do," Dawkins said. "I didn't know what resources to point them towards, and I think this campaign is vital because it allows people a gateway to resources."

Suicide was the second-leading cause of death among youth ages 10-25 years in California between 2018 and 2022, with youth ages 10-18 experiencing a more than 20% increase in suicide rates from 2019 to 2020.

If you or someone you know is in emotional distress or a suicidal crisis, you can reach the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline by calling or texting 988. You can also chat with the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline here.

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