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Idaho, like much of the United States, is seeing a mental health crisis in both adults and teenagers.

In 2019 through 2020, 20.78% of adults in America were experiencing some sort of mental illness, equivalent to 50 million people, according to Mental Health America.

And in youth ages 12 to 17, 16.39% reported having at least one major depressive episode and 11.5% are experiencing severe major depression.

Idaho had the 12th highest suicide rate in the United States in 2022, according to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. Suicide was also the 9th leading cause of death in Idaho in 2021.

Preliminary data from the Idaho Violent Death Reporting System shows there were 430 suicides in 2023, 30 of those were teenagers between the ages of 13 and 17. That number is highest since 2018, when 24 people in this age range died by suicide.

In the Boise School District, four students died by suicide in less than two months. The Ada County Coroner's Office recorded eight juvenile suicides between August and December 2023, and the Boise Police Department said it responded to five teen suicides in 2023.

Suicide rates are also highest in rural areas due to limited mental health resources.

In the age of social media, teenagers are struggling more with their mental health. This is in part because engaging with social media and other forms of digital media are rewarding to youth, with each "like" on a photo triggering the reward processing part of the brain.

But there is hope for everyone struggling with their mental health. Local organizations are starting to take note of the mental health crisis affecting Idaho teenagers.

Communities for Youth, an Idaho-based nonprofit, says 33% of youth in Boise are struggling with depression. The organization is working to build connections across data and research, educators, community partners, youth, parents and other community members.

The Boise School District also offers five free counseling sessions for all students, caregivers and siblings. The district is also partnered with the City of Boise and Communities for Youth as part of their support of the well-being of students.

Addressing youth mental health in Idaho

The difference between 911 and 988

With the new three digit number for the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, you may wonder what the difference is between that and calling 911 for emergency services. While both are available 24/7, 911 is available for physical safety and emergency medical services, which may be needed in a mental health crisis.

988 is available to call or text for emotional distress and suicidal crisis.

How 988 works

When someone texts or calls 988, they will be connected with a trained crisis counselor who can offer immediate support and resources. The lifeline is available in all states and five territories.

Something important to note is you are connected with a counselor in the state or area where your phone's area code is from. For example, if you have a 208 number, you will be connected with someone for the counselor center in Idaho. Calling the 988 number does not provide your exact location and you are not required to provide personal information to receive support. ,

Mental Health Resources

988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline

988 is the new 3-digit number for the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. It’s available for anyone 24/7. When you call, you’ll be connected to a trained crisis counselor who will listen, ensure your safety and provide referrals if necessary.

CALL: 988

Press 1 for the Veterans Crisis Line

Press 2 for the Spanish language line

Press 3 for specialized LGBTQ+ support

SAMHSA National Helpline

The SAMHSA National Helpline is a free and confidential service available 24/7. They are a treatment referral and information service in both english and spanish for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders.

CALL: 1-800-662-4357

TTY: 1-800-487-4889

TEXT (English only): 435748

Teen Line

Teen Line is a nonprofit that provides support and resources to young people through a hotline of professionally trained teen counselors. There are also outreach programs that de-stigmatize and normalize mental health.

CALL: 800-852-8336

TEXT: TEEN to 839863 (7 p.m. to 10 p.m. MT)

The Trevor Project

The Trevor Project creates a safe online place for LGBTQ+ youth. They provide resources, a 24/7 helpline and a place to virtually connect with others.

CALL: 1-866-488-4386

TEXT: START to 678678

VA Crisis Line

The Veterans Crisis Line connects veterans and current service members in crisis and their families and friends with qualified VA responders through a confidential hotline.

CALL: 988 ext. 1

TEXT: 838255

Mental Health in Idaho