Sisterhood Agenda

Suicide Prevention for Girls-Building Resilience

Angela D. Coleman
Latest posts by Angela D. Coleman (see all)

Sometimes, life can feel like it is too much to handle, especially for young girls.  Teenage girls are often overwhelmed by traumatic hardships and may not see a better day.  Suicide may be something that they think about, sometimes daily.  A precious life gets cut short too soon with suicide.  Fortunately, there are things that we can do to prevent suicide and at least, make it less likely.  Let’s figure it out.

Suicide is defined as death caused by self-directed injurious behavior with intent to die as a result of the behavior.

Young people today are suffering. They report higher levels of anxiety and depression, compared to other generations.  Suicide is the leading cause of death for young people after auto accidents.  As with other health outcomes, disparities exist:  the most recent studies show suicide rates for African American children ages 5 to 12 is twice that of young Whites with African American youth suicides, exceeding suicides among White youth for the first time on record.   In general, instead of slowing down, teen suicide rates are rising.  Yet, young people are not alone.

Adults are not happy, either.  Adult suicide rates are rising, too, with increased rates of death by suicide in the U.S. cross culture, class, race and income reported in all but one state (Nevada had a 1% decline) between 1999 and 2016. The year 2017 has been reported as “the most miserable year on record” according to survey results analyzed across multiple countries.  What can we do?

Throughout the years, Sisterhood Agenda has discovered how trauma, both present and historical, can have disturbing effects on the health, self-sufficiency, and well-being of woman and girls.  We know raising healthy girls is a collaborative effort.

Resilience refers to the capacity of individuals to maintain a relatively stable equilibrium and healthy levels of psychological and physical functioning after exposure to a potentially disruptive event.  The differentiating factor that distinguishes those who move on to live healthy and successful lives after trauma from those who do not is resilience.

Resilience helps us cope with difficult situations and bounce back from adversity.

Preventive and health promotion activities within a supportive sisterhood environment can produce resilient individuals who are better able to accommodate and respond to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), stress, and anxiety.   Fortunately, resilience can be fully developed and built up with intention.


There are many ways to build resilience.  For example:

Positive, supportive environments with adult mentors who care can build resilience for girls.

Trauma-informed girl power programs, such as A Journey Toward Womanhood, SisterCamp, and Sister Circles / Sister Circles for Girls that focus on Sisterhood Agenda’s four empowerment principles can also build resilience.  Sisterhood Agenda’s four empowerment principles are: sisterhood, self-knowledge, self-development, and self-esteem.

Give girls opportunities to build resilience because they can not always do it on their own.  Ask girls if they are okay.  Invite them to lunch.  Start a Sister Circle at their schools.   Gather to support girls who need you, even if they do not say it aloud.  Invite them, engage them, and listen.  It could be the difference between life and death for a girl in your community.

Photo credit:  Shutterstock

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