Tips from the CDC to improve mental health during peak months when teen suicide rates increase

ByBrianne Hailey Killeen WABC logo
Monday, October 9, 2023
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As we open our arms to the fall season, we also welcome the new school year now underway. During this transition time, it's important to keep mental health a priority.

A recent study found that a relationship between seasonal patterns and teen suicide rates in the U.S. may indicate a potential link between suicidality and the U.S. school calendar.

The same study, published in JAMA Network Open, noted that teen suicide rates peaked in the months of April and October and that intervention during these months could help save lives.

Let's talk about some interventional mental health tips from the CDC for teens to consider when going back to school:

Limit social media time

Staying informed about what is happening in the world is important, but it is necessary to limit the consumption of negative content.

Upsetting and discouraging information can be rather triggering and may lead to negative thoughts.

Focus on physical health

When improving mental health, caring for physical health is also part of the process.

Taking care of one's physical health includes eating nutritional foods, limiting saturated fats, cholesterol, salt and added sugars.

It also involves building a consistent sleep schedule where bedtime and wake-up time are the same each day- even on the weekends.

Moving around is also very significant when it comes to improving one's health because every little bit of physical activity helps. Some may also consider more relaxing forms of activity like breathing exercises, meditation and stretching.

Lastly, it is vital to attend regular health appointments and checkups to ensure good overall health.

Make time to chill out

Making the time to unwind and escape the craziness of one's day-to-day routine is super important.

Humans need down time to think and reflect on life's circumstances.

Down time is also necessary for people to do what they enjoy that brings them peace in the midst of the world's ever-changing situations.

Stay connected

Staying connected with other people is important to avoiding the risks of social isolation.

One can stay connected by getting involved or volunteering in community clubs and organizations.

The CDC also released tips for parents to help improve their children's social connectedness:

Be a model

Parents can help by modeling and encouraging healthy relationships with diverse groups of peers.

They can also help to do so by coming up with ways in which their child can meet people who are different from them.

Be open

Parents may also consider having transparent and open conversations about negative influences and stresses. For example, this conversation may address topics like peer pressure and rejection.

Be on the lookout

Parents should be watching for signs of loneliness and isolation in order to get their child help if needed.

This might mean paying attention to changes in their child's sleep schedule, energy levels and behaviors.

Concerning behavior could include unusual withdrawal from friends and family.

Any concerning behaviors should be talked about with a health care provider.

The CDC published a set of tips to help reduce stress in as quickly as 10 minutes:

Get moving

Maybe go for a walk around the room or even have a little jam-out break.


This can be as simple as closing your eyes, breathing deeply and stretching.


Getting stress out onto paper can be a good way to relieve it from your mind and body.

Journaling thoughts and appreciations is a good place to start.


Check in with yourself to stay in tune with your own thoughts.

This can be done by asking yourself necessary questions for understanding your own thinking and decision-making.


Thinking of someone or something funny is a great way to laugh and bring some immediate happiness into the moment.

Read quotes

Finding meaningful quotes and song lyrics that you can write down and hang on to is a great way to find some inspiration.

Maybe they are words of encouragement or something that makes one feel understood.

If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, substance use or other mental health crises please call or text the new three-digit code at 988. You will reach a trained crisis counselor for free, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can also go to