Earlier in the week I had a chance to attend the Mental Health First Aid USA Training. It was very informative and covered in great detail, the importance of developing an action plan for developing mental health problems. As I read through the content, there was one stat that stood out to me – ” In 2013, Suicide was the second leading cause of death among 15 -to-24 year olds and 25-to-34-year olds” and that ” In 2010, approximately 84 percent of people who completed suicide had symptoms of mental health problems. The second leading cause of death?
It’s no secret that access to great mental health care in the US is a problem. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, less than half of adolescents with psychiatric disorders received any kind of treatment in the past year.
As parents there is only so much that we can do. My experience with my own children has been that, around the age of 15 they had a tendency to be a little more private. As much as they grew tired of me asking, how was their day as they walked in the house; it was my way of gauging if they were truly okay. I am a strong proponent of counseling. This was not always the case. As a once devout Christian, I thought prayer was the only remedy. I thank God for wisdom.
Our youth have so many things that compete for their attention. The instant access to information and social media and the influences that come with it, can present a challenge for them. It is as if the peer pressure has been multiplied. We can’t be everywhere all the time, but here are some warning signs of suicide:
- Threatening to hurt of kill himself or herself
- Looking for ways to kill himself or herself, seeking access to pills, weapons, or other means
- Talking or writing about death, dying, or suicide
- Expressing hopelessness
- Feeling rage or anger, seeking revenge
- Acting recklessly or engaging in risky activities, seemingly without thinking
- Feeling trapped, like there is no way out
- Increasing alcohol or drug use
- Withdrawing from friends, family, or society
- Experiencing anxiety or agitation, being unable to sleep, or sleeping all the time
- Undergoing dramatic changes in mood
- Feeling no reason for living, no sense of purpose in life
Also, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number is 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Let’s all work together in order to remove the stigma associated with mental health disorders.