Monthly, if not weekly, we hear of another young person dying from suicide. With proper identification and treatment, these can be preventable deaths.
CEO and Co-Founder, Psych Hub
Suicide is one of the leading causes of death for teens and young adults. The rate of suicide among ages 10 to 24 increased nearly 60% between 2007-2018. During the pandemic, these numbers have multiplied, and female adolescents are particularly affected with an increase of emergency room visits for suicide attempts by 50%.
Trite but true, our lives as parents completely change the day our child arrives into our world — both a profound experience of joy and an intense sense of responsibility. Amidst the wonder of holding our baby, we typically do not consider the possibility of mental illness or the direst of outcomes, the risk of suicide. But statistics suggest if we are armed with mental health education, the same as physical health, we could help foster resiliency and be better prepared to navigate the mental health issues that affect everyone.
As with many things in life, this rise in depression and suicide has many interrelated causes. Studies have shown that changes in nutrition, lack of sleep, technology use, and social media are all part of the increases in depression. In addition, the use of technology and social media has been associated with depression and suicide for many reasons, including the experience of FOMO (fear of missing out) and FOBLO (fear of being left out). Teens are especially susceptible to the influences of social media which often depict an unrealistic reality. Developmentally they are wired to be social, which is happening virtually more than ever. We are only now gaining an understanding of how this affects mental well-being. These multiple factors were already smoldering for teens and parents, but the pandemic dumped further fuel onto the flame.
Educating parents and teachers to increase their mental health literacy will give them skills to recognize critical times to intervene. Providing them with suicide prevention resources can save lives. Teens spend an average of 32.5 hours a week at school. This means during waking hours they spend more time in school than at home. There is a great opportunity for teachers and parents to partner. Psych Hub has developed over 1,000 educational assets that provide competency training on mental health, including how to identify potential symptoms and effectively intervene with students who may be at risk for suicide.
Some signs to be watchful for are:
- A person who talks about killing themselves
- Increased use of drugs and alcohol
- Looking for ways to end their life
- Withdrawing from activities
- Isolating from family and friends
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Visiting or calling people to say goodbye
- Giving away prized possessions
- Aggression and/or fatigue
With evidence-based education, observation, and compassionate action, together we can intervene, turn the tide, and help our teens and young adults to heal and thrive.