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Youth suicides and mental health issues on the rise

By Charlotte Smith
Sobering facts listing suicide as a leading cause of death among children and teenagers along with reports of mental health issues continuing to rise in this age group is not something easy to report. However, talking about the issues is one of the best ways to combat suicide and mental illness according to professionals in the field. Mental health is just as important as physical health and no one should be ashamed for seeking assistance for their mental wellbeing according to experts.
In March of this year, the American Psychological Association published a study reporting significant increases in the number of young adults and adolescents who reported experiencing negative psychological symptoms.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death among youth aged 10 to 19 years old in the United States. Suicide rates have increased 33% between 1999 and 2014, according to the Center of Disease Control report. Recent reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveal female youth are experiencing a greater percentage increase in suicide rates compared with male youth. In the past, males had a higher rate of suicides.
According to a Jaman Network study released this month youth 15 to 19 years of age showed suicide rates for female individuals more than doubled from 2007 to 2015. The numbers compared with a 31% increase for male individuals. However, an additional report found female youth aged 10 to 14 years experienced the largest percentage increase in suicide rates, tripling in cases.
According to a report the increase in mental illness symptoms started to accelerate in 2011, coincidentally around the same time social media gained traction. Social media may be part of the problem, but it is only one issue needing to be addressed according to professionals.
Teen Mental Health says, “Not all self-harm behaviours are attempts to die by suicide. There may be many reasons for self-harm behaviours besides suicide, including a cry for help (e.g. a person may self-harm if they are stuck in a harmful situation from which they cannot escape, such as ongoing sexual abuse.)”
Most people who have the risk factors for suicide will not kill themselves. However, the risk for suicidal behavior is complex. Research suggests that people who attempt suicide may react to events, think, and make decisions differently than those who do not attempt suicide. These differences happen more often if a person also has a disorder such as depressionsubstance abuseanxietyborderline personality disorder, and psychosis. Risk factors are important to keep in mind; however, someone who has warning signs of suicide may be in more danger and require immediate attention, according to The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).
Mental Health of America had some warning signs and suggestions for children with mental health issues or suicidal thoughts.
  • Threats of suicide—either direct or indirect.
  • Verbal hints such as “I won’t be around much longer” or “It’s hopeless.”
  • Obsession with death.
  • Overwhelming sense of guilt, shame or rejection.
  • Putting affairs in order (for example, giving or throwing away favorite possessions).
  • Sudden cheerfulness after a period of depression.
  • Dramatic change in personality or appearance.
  • Irritability.
  • Hallucinations or bizarre thoughts.
  • Changes in eating or sleeping patterns.
  • Changes in school performance.


  • Ask the child or teen if he or she feels depressed or thinks about suicide or death. Speaking openly and honestly allows the child to confide in you and gives you a chance to express your concern. Listen to his or her thoughts and feelings in a caring and respectful manner.
  • Let the child or teen know that you care and want to help.
  • Supply the child or teen with local resources, such as a crisis hotline or the location of a mental health clinic. If the child or teen is a student, find out if there are any available mental health professionals at the school and let the child know about them.
  • Seek professional help. It is essential to seek expert advice from a mental health professional that has experience helping depressed children and teens.
  • Alert key adults in the child’s life—family, friends, teachers. Inform the child’s parents or primary caregiver, and recommend that they seek professional assistance for their child or teen.
  • Trust your instincts. If you think the situation may be serious, seek immediate help. If necessary, break a confidence in order to save a life.


Everyone can

  • Ask someone you are worried about if they’re thinking about suicide.
  • Keep them safe. Reduce access to lethal means for those at risk.
  • Be there with them. Listen to what they need.
  • Help them connect with ongoing support like the Lifeline (1-800-273-8255).
  • Follow up to see how they’re doing.


If You Know Someone in Crisis: Call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL) at 1–800–273–TALK (8255), 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The service is available to everyone. The deaf and hard of hearing can contact the Lifeline via TTY at 1–800–799–4889. All calls are confidential. Contact social media outlets directly if you are concerned about a friend’s social media updates or dial 911 in an emergency. Learn more on the NSPL’s website. The Crisis Text Line is another resource available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Text “HOME” to 741741.

Other Resources

1-800-273-TALK (8255)
This will connect you with a crisis center in your area.

Covenant House Nine Line
This is a 24-hour teen crisis line.

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

American Association of Suicidology

If you are in Bladen County you may call Eastpointe:
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