Contrary to popular belief suicide rates are not at their peak high in December, but sharply increase in January which is known as the "postponing effect". Psychologists believe that the comfort of family members brings temporary relief for those who suffer from depression. However, if we consider that suicide is the third leading cause of death for individuals 15-24, learning to support our loved ones within this age group is very important during this time of year when we get the most face-to-face interaction with them.
So to get you prepared for the holiday festivities, I've created a list of tips to keep your loved ones feeling supported this time of year.
1. Plan activities that have nothing to do with work or school.
This time of year we all know someone who gets a break from school, work, or high-pressure roles in social organizations. Too often we're eager to jump into asking about work, grades, or relationships without even considering that this is their one time to decompress.
Try to plan fun activities like Taboo, bowling, or ice skating to help them enjoy themselves. Life needs balance, so be sure that you aren't the one adding to the imbalance in their lives.
2. Reassure them when the important things in their life come up.
I get it: As a parent or friend you're going to ask about the grades, the new significant other, or the big promotion. Whatever the response, be sure to let them know you stand behind them. Don't just stand over them telling them what to do, be an active participant in the process to get them back on track or helping them celebrate.
If the news is good, plan a dessert party for close friends and family. Show the person that when they win, we all win. If the news is bad, don't tell everyone you know. Show that person respect by keeping their difficulties private, and working with them to create a better reality.
3. Let them sleep in, but not too long.
Research shows that excessive sleeping in addition to experiencing "a low or sad mood" is a sign of depression. If you notice this symptom, be sure to talk to your loved one about their excessive sleeping patterns. If the person is in school, be sure to account for all the sleep they may need to catch up on.
The key to recognizing this symptom is to also understand what mood they are in, and be aware of the others listed here. Have a candid conversation with them about the support they need going into the new year.
4. Make your support even stronger in January.
While you're thinking about it now, use your smartphone calendar to plan out follow up contact after the holidays. Start with January 1 and plan out contact every 3-5 days with your loved one.
If you've never contacted them this often before start with easy things like talking about pop culture, screenshotting a funny joke from twitter, or a new purchase you've been contemplating.
Whichever way you find to connect this holiday season, be sure not to fall off in January. Remember December is your prep time, but January is when rates peak back up. No matter which method you use, just know that your millennial will definitely appreciate it.
Gabriella Payne builds teams and communities through inspiration and strategic confidence development. She works with universities, athletic teams, and corporations to help students and recent graduates transform their mental thought patterns by teaching new, healthier habits. She is also an advocate for the prevention of domestic abuse and teaches a series called "See It Coming".