Youth & Family Navigation Services

Any adolescent, ages 10-24, and their families are eligible to receive services. This FREE service provides support and interventions for youth and their families who are struggling with their mental health or who may be at risk for suicide.

About the Youth & Family Navigation Program. 

The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention identifies suicide as the second leading cause of death among Maine youth, ages 10 – 24. Crisis and Counseling Centers is fighting to reduce those numbers by creating meaningful connections and providing a full range of Youth and Family Navigation Services, staffed by Youth & Family Navigators. The Youth & Family Navigators provide a critical safety-net that offers the opportunity for early intervention, continuous care coordination, and follow-up to ensure safety, as well as support for families who are often left feeling powerless and overwhelmed when their child is struggling with an acute or prolonged state of mental health crisis.

Through the Youth and Family Navigation Program, youth and their families can receive help with safety planning, risk assessment counseling if there is access to lethal means (i.e., potentially dangerous objects like guns and certain medications), referrals, and connections to resources within and outside of Crisis & Counseling Centers.

The program’s success will rely heavily on communication, collaboration, the establishment of extensive community resources, a referral network, and partnerships with local schools to help raise awareness about available services for youth in Maine, all of which support our goal of youth suicide prevention.

Our resources focus specifically on Androscoggin, Franklin, Kennebec, Knox, Lincoln, Oxford, Sagadahoc, Somerset, and Waldo counties. However, if you contact us, we’ll do everything we can to help you get the help you need, wherever you are.

Long story short, we’re here to help keep our kids healthy and alive, and we’ve compiled all of our best resources here to help in that endeavor.

Eligibility Requirements:

Young people ages 10 – 24 at risk of suicide and their families.

This service is available in the following regions:


  • Androscoggin County
  • Franklin County
  • Kennebec County
  • Knox County
  • Lincoln County
  • Oxford County
  • Sagadahoc County
  • Somerset County
  • Waldo County
  • Statewide via other providers.

Anyone can make referrals to the program by calling (207) 213-4537 or by downloading and returning the Youth & Family Navigation Referral Form.

This service is provided at no cost thanks to funding from the Maine Department of Health and Human Services.

Resources & Frequently Asked Questions

Help for Me

Are you feeling suicidal?

If you’re thinking about suicide, your pain may seem overwhelming and permanent. But there are ways to cope with suicidal thoughts and feelings and overcome the pain.

If you’re having suicidal thoughts

No matter how much pain you’re experiencing right now, you’re not alone. Many of us have had suicidal thoughts at some point in our lives. Feeling suicidal is not a character defect, and it doesn’t mean that you are crazy, or weak, or flawed. It only means that you have more pain than you can cope with right now. But with time and support, you can overcome your problems and the pain and suicidal feelings will pass.

Some of the finest, most admired, needed, and talented people have been where you are right now. Many of us have thought about taking our own lives when we’ve felt overwhelmed by depression, or by something else going on in our lives, and felt devoid of all hope. But the pain of depression can be treated, issues can be resolved, and hope can be renewed.

No matter what your situation, there are people who need you, places where you can make a difference, and experiences that can remind you that life is worth living. It takes real courage to face death and step back from the brink. You can use that courage to face life, to learn coping skills for overcoming depression, and for finding the strength to keep going.


  1. Your emotions are not fixed—they are constantly changing. How you feel today may not be the same as how you felt yesterday or how you’ll feel tomorrow or next week.
  2. Your absence would create grief and anguish in the lives of friends and loved ones.
  3. There are many things you can still accomplish and overcome in your life.
  4. There are sights, sounds, and experiences in life that have the ability to delight and lift you—and that you would miss if you weren’t here anymore.
  5. Your ability to experience pleasurable emotions is equal to your ability to experience distressing emotions.
Why do I feel suicidal?

Many kinds of emotional pain can lead to thoughts of suicide. The reasons for this pain are unique to each one of us, and the ability to cope with the pain differs from person to person. We are all different. There are, however, some common causes that may lead us to experience suicidal thoughts and feelings.

Why suicide can seem like the only option
If you are unable to think of solutions other than suicide, it is not that other solutions don’t exist, but rather that you are currently unable to see them. The intense emotional pain that you’re experiencing right now can distort your thinking so it becomes harder to see possible solutions to problems—or to connect with those who can offer support.

Therapists, counselors, friends, or loved ones can help you to see solutions that otherwise may not be apparent to you. Please give them a chance to help.

A suicidal crisis is almost always temporary.
Although it might seem as if your pain and unhappiness will never end, it is important to realize that crises are usually temporary. Solutions are often found, feelings change, unexpected positive events occur. Remind yourself: suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Give yourself the time necessary for things to change and the pain to subside.

Even problems that seem hopeless have solutions.
Mental health conditions such as depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder are all treatable with changes in lifestyle, therapy, and medication. Most people who seek help can improve their situation and recover.

Even if you have received treatment for a disorder before, or if you’ve already made attempts to solve your problems, know that it’s often necessary to try different approaches before finding the right solution or combination of solutions. When medication is prescribed, for example, finding the right dosage often requires an ongoing process of adjustment. Don’t give up before you’ve found the solution that works for you. Virtually all problems can be treated or resolved.

Take these immediate actions.

If you’re feeling suicidal at this moment, please follow these five steps:

Step #1: Promise not to do anything right now.
Even though you’re in a lot of pain right now, give yourself some distance between thoughts and action. Make a promise to yourself: “I will wait 24 hours and won’t do anything drastic during that time.” Or, wait a week. It may not feel like it right now, but you’re worth it.

Thoughts and actions are two different things—your suicidal thoughts do not have to become a reality. There is no deadline, no one’s pushing you to act on these thoughts immediately. Wait. Wait and put some distance between your suicidal thoughts and suicidal action.

Step #2: Avoid drugs and alcohol.
Suicidal thoughts can become even stronger if you have taken drugs or alcohol. It is important to not use nonprescription drugs or alcohol when you feel hopeless or are thinking about suicide.

Step #3: Make your home safe.
Talk to you parents or someone else you trust to get help removing things you could use to hurt yourself. If you are unable to do so, go to a place where you can feel safe. If you are thinking of overdosing on medication, give your medicines to someone who can ration them to you one day at a time as you need them until you feel safe.

Step #4: Don’t keep suicidal feelings to yourself.
Many of us have found that the first step to coping with suicidal thoughts and feelings is to share them with someone we trust. It may be your parents, another family member, friend, therapist, member of the clergy, teacher, family doctor, coach, or an experienced counselor at the end of a helpline.

Find someone you trust and let them know how bad things are. Don’t let fear, shame, or embarrassment prevent you from seeking help. And if the first person you reach out to doesn’t seem to understand, try someone else. Just talking about how you got to this point in your life can release a lot of the pressure that’s building up and help you find a way to cope.

Step #5: Don’t lose hope – people DO get through this.
Even people who feel as badly as you are feeling right now manage to survive these feelings. Take hope in this. There is a very good chance that you are going to live through these feelings, no matter how much self-loathing, hopelessness, or isolation you are currently experiencing. Just give yourself the time needed and don’t try to go it alone.

Reaching out for help.

Even if it doesn’t feel like it right now, there are many people who want to support you during this difficult time. Reach out to someone. Do it now. If you promised yourself 24 hours or a week in step #1 above, use that time to tell someone what’s going on with you. Talk to someone who won’t try to argue about how you feel, judge you, or tell you to just “snap out of it.” Find someone who will simply listen and be there for you.

It doesn’t matter who it is, as long as it’s someone you trust and who is likely to listen with compassion and acceptance.

If you want guidance on reaching out for help, you can call us 24-hours a day, 7 days a week: 1-888-568-1112.

How to talk to someone about your suicidal thoughts.

Even when you’ve decided who you can trust to talk to, admitting your suicidal thoughts to another person can be difficult.

  • Tell the person exactly what you are telling yourself. If you have a suicide plan, explain it to them.
  • Phrases such as, ‘I can’t take it anymore’ or ‘I’m done’ are vague and do not illustrate how serious things really are. Tell the person you trust that you are thinking about suicide.
  • If it is too difficult for you to talk about, try writing it down and handing a note to the person you trust. Or send them an email or text and sit with them while they read it.

What if you don’t feel understood?

This happens and that’s okay. If the first person you reached out to doesn’t seem to understand, tell someone else or call a suicide crisis helpline. Don’t let a bad experience stop you from finding someone who can help.

How to cope with suicidal thoughts.

Remember that while it may seem as if your suicidal thoughts and feelings will never end, this is never a permanent condition. You WILL feel better again. In the meantime, there are some ways to help cope with your suicidal thoughts and feelings.

Things to do if you're having suicidal thoughts and feelings

Depending on your age, some of the suggestions below might not be a good fit for you. Consult with your parents or a trusted family member, friend, or your doctor for any guidance you may need in creating a plan that fits your needs best.

1. Talk with someone every day, preferably face to face if you can. Even though you may feel like withdrawing, ask trusted family, friends and acquaintances to spend time with you. Or continue to call our crisis helpline and talk about your feelings: 1-888-568-1112

2. Make a safety plan. Develop a set of steps that you can follow during a suicidal crisis. It should include contact numbers for your doctor or therapist, as well as friends and family members who will help in an emergency.

3. Make a written schedule for yourself every day and stick to it, no matter what. Keep a regular routine as much as possible, even when your feelings seem out of control.

4. Get out in the sun or into nature for at least 30 minutes a day.

5. Exercise as vigorously as is safe for you. To get the most benefit, aim for 30 minutes of exercise per day. But you can start small. Three 10-minute bursts of activity can have a positive effect on mood.

6. Make time for things that bring you joy. Even if very few things bring you pleasure at the moment, force yourself to do the things you used to enjoy.

7. Remember your personal goals and work toward achieving them. What do you want to be when you grow up? You may have always wanted to travel to a particular place, read a specific book, own a pet, move to another place, learn a new hobby, volunteer, go back to school, or start a family. Write your personal goals down.

Things to avoid.

1. Being alone. Solitude can make suicidal thoughts even worse. Spend time with your family, or friends, or pick up the phone and call us: 1-888-568-1112

2. Alcohol and drugs. Drugs and alcohol can increase depression, hamper your problem-solving ability, and can make you act impulsively.

3. Doing things that make you feel worse. Listening to sad music, looking at certain photographs, reading old letters, or visiting a loved one’s grave can all increase negative feelings.

4. Thinking about suicide and other negative thoughts. Try not to become preoccupied with suicidal thoughts as this can make them even stronger. Don’t think and rethink negative thoughts. Find a distraction. Giving yourself a break from suicidal thoughts can help, even if it’s for a short time.

Recovering from suicidal thoughts

Even if your suicidal thoughts and feelings have subsided, be open to getting help from someone who’s trained to help. Experiencing that sort of emotional pain is itself a traumatizing experience. Finding a support group or therapist can be very helpful in decreasing the chances that you will feel suicidal again in the future. You can find resources on this site, or call us for more information and guidance: 1-888-568-1112

5 Steps to recovery

1. Identify triggers or situations that lead to feelings of despair or generate suicidal thoughts, such as an anniversary of a loss, alcohol, or stress from relationships. Find ways to avoid these places, people, or situations.1. Identify triggers or situations that lead to feelings of despair or generate suicidal thoughts, such as an anniversary of a loss, alcohol, or stress from relationships. Find ways to avoid these places, people, or situations.

2. Take care of yourself. Eat right, don’t skip meals, and get plenty of sleep. Exercise is also key: it releases endorphins, relieves stress, and promotes emotional well-being.

3. Build your support network. Surround yourself with positive influences and people who make you feel good about yourself. The more you’re invested in other people and your community, the more you have to lose—which will help you stay positive and on the recovery track.

4. Develop new activities and interests. Find new hobbies, volunteer activities, or work that gives you a sense of meaning and purpose. Spend time with people you care about who care about you, too. When you’re doing things you find fulfilling, you’ll feel better about yourself and feelings of despair are less likely to return.

5. Learn to deal with stress in a healthy way. Find healthy ways to keep your stress levels in check, including exercising, meditating, using sensory strategies to relax, practicing simple breathing exercises, and challenging self-defeating thoughts. Your family, friends, and doctor can help you find other healthy ways to manage, too.


19-year old, Kevin Breel, shares his experience with suicidal thoughts and the 4 simple words he tells himself to save his own life:

Help for my child

I need some help. Is my child suicidal?

If your child is talking about or threatening to commit suicide, your child is “suicidal”. There are some things that may be helpful for you to understand. Children, teens, and young adults contemplating suicide likely feel utterly hopeless, out of control, and unable to cope. The pain they are experiencing is intense and substantial, and in this moment, suicide seems the only way out. Impulsivity plays a big role in the danger that contemplation of suicide poses to younger people, because they’re more likely to ask on an impulse than someone older might be.

Warning signs.

1. Talking about or making plans for suicide

2. Expressing hopelessness about the future

3. Displaying severe/overwhelming emotional pain or distress

4. Drug and alcohol use

5. Unusual neglect of personal appearance

6. Frequent complaints about physical symptoms, such as stomach pains, headaches, or tiredness

7. Rejecting praise or rewards

8. Showing worrisome behavioral cues or marked changes in behavior, particularly in the presence of the warning signs above. Specifically, this includes significant:

  • Withdrawal from friends, family, society
  • Changes in sleep (increased or decreased)
  • Anger or hostility that seems out of character or out of context
  • Recent increased agitation or irritability
How to respond.

If you suspect that your child is considering suicide, talk about it with them immediately. Take it seriously and don’t dismiss it as acting out, looking for attention, or “teenage drama”. Contrary to popular belief, talking about suicide doesn’t plant suicidal ideas in their heads.

In fact, addressing the topic head-on can do the very opposite by helping your child to know what to do if they experience suicidal thoughts or behaviors. You can play a significant role in helping them identify a problem and to know how to ask for help.

If your child mentions wanting to die or wishing they were dead, encourage them to talk to you about their distress.

These strategies can help your child start talking:

Ask your child to share whether a specific incident led to suicidal thoughts. Ask a question such as, “What happened? I want to know more. It might help to talk about it.”

Don’t invalidate your child’s feelings. Avoid saying things that may be perceived as empty or unhelpful such as, “You should appreciate all you have in life,” or “I think you’re overreacting.” Those reactions downplay your child’s pain.

Encourage your child to describe what they’re feeling. Say something like, “I had no idea things were so bad for you. Let’s talk about what’s going on.”

Show acceptance. Listen without verbalizing judgment or disagreeing with their statements or feelings.

Ask if your teen has a specific plan for suicide. The more specific the plan, the higher the risk.

If you need help before, during, or after talking to you child about suicide, call a Youth & Family Navigator at (207) 213-4523. We’re here to help you.

Okay, now what do I do?

After gaining a better understanding, it’s important to offer your child emotional support. Use the suggestions below that best suit you, your child, and your situation:

Be specific and direct. As compassionately as possible, say to your child, “I do not want you to hurt yourself and I will do everything possible to keep you from committing suicide.”

Explain that you understand your teen feels miserable. Say something like, “I think you feel there’s no way out.”

Gently point out that suicide is not a solution. Try saying something like, “I know there are options that could help you, let’s check those out together.”

Let your child know you are worried. Don’t downplay your concern about their well-being.

Promise to be there for your child. Do whatever it takes to try to get them through this. Provide reassurance by saying something like, “You are not alone. I am here to help you now that I understand how bad you feel.”

Remind your child of your unconditional love. Now is the time to show how much you care.

What can I do to keep my child safe?

Make Safety the Top Priority.
A child, teen, or young adult who is talking about suicide could be in immediate danger to themself. Take your child’s comments seriously. There are a few things you can do to make safety a top priority.

First, and this is vitally important: remove all dangerous implements or substances (firearms and medications, in particular) from the immediate area. Stay with your child—make sure your child is not left alone during this crisis. Once the immediate danger has been addressed, get ongoing help for your child. Therapy can treat and address underlying mental health issues and is crucial to alleviating your child’s distress.

Factors that can increase the risk of youth suicide include having a psychiatric condition (such as depression or anxiety), bullying issues, interpersonal issues, being a part of the LGBTQ+ community, and substance use. Getting your child help with such issues is an important part of suicide prevention.

Things you should not do.

Do not argue with your suicidal child. Avoid saying things like: “You have so much to live for,” “Your suicide will hurt your family,” or “Just snap out of it.”

Do not act shocked, lecture on the value of life, or argue that suicide is wrong.

Do not promise confidentiality or be sworn to secrecy. Your child’s life is at stake and you may need to speak to a mental health professional in order to keep him/her safe. If you promise to keep your discussions secret, you may have to break your word.

Do not offer ways to fix your child’s problems, give advice, or make them feel like they have to justify their suicidal feelings. It is not about how bad the problem is, but how badly it’s hurting your child.

Do not blame yourself. You can’t “fix” someone else’s depression or take away awful feelings they may be experiencing. You can offer hope, support, and help accessing resources.

Help for my Student

What do I need to know?

Suicide is a serious and growing problem, and is of increasing concern for Maine’s adolescents, 10 – 24 years old. Ages 10 – 24, in particular, can be an emotionally turbulent and stressful time period. Children, teens, and young adults face pressures to succeed and fit in. They may struggle with self-esteem issues, self-doubt, and feelings of alienation. Depression is also a major risk factor for adolescent suicide. For some, one of these factors, or a combination of them, leads to suicide. Schools are in a unique position in terms of access to our adolescent population and can help a great deal by addressing possible peer and social dynamics that may contribute to stronger suicidal ideation.

Other risk factors for teenage suicide include:

  • Childhood abuse
  • Recent traumatic event(s)
  • Lack of a support network
  • Access to firearms or large quantities of medication
  • Hostile social or school environment / bullying
  • Exposure to other teen suicides
  • Lack of support related to sexual orientation
Warning signs.

1. Talking about or making plans for suicide

2. Expressing hopelessness about the future

3. Displaying severe/overwhelming emotional pain or distress

4. Drug and alcohol use

5. Unusual neglect of personal appearance

6. Frequent complaints about physical symptoms, such as stomach pains, headaches, or tiredness

7. Rejecting praise or rewards

8. Showing worrisome behavioral cues or marked changes in behavior, particularly in the presence of the warning signs above. Specifically, this includes significant:

  • Withdrawal from friends, family, society
  • Changes in sleep (increased or decreased)
  • Anger or hostility that seems out of character or out of context
  • Recent increased agitation or irritability
How to respond.

1. Listen: Pay attention to verbal and nonverbal cues from students that show stress and make yourself available to talk.

2. Protect: Answer questions honestly and communicate what is being done to keep students safe.

3. Connect: Keep communication open with other adults, find resources that can offer support and help restore student activities that encourage interaction with friends whenever possible.

4. Model: Be aware of your own reactions to crises and demonstrate how to cope in a healthy way.

5. Teach: Help students identify positive coping mechanisms and celebrate small achievements as they begin to get through each day successfully.

How schools can help.

The best way to prevent suicide is to use a comprehensive approach that includes these key components:

1. Promote emotional well-being and connectedness among all students.

2. Identify students who may be at risk for suicide and assist them in getting help.

3. Be prepared to respond when a suicide death occurs in your community.