Our View: Teen suicide happening at alarming rates

According to the American Society for Suicide Prevention, suicide is the second leading cause of death among teens and young adults (ages 10 to 34) in Kentucky.

The Kentucky Department of Education reports that according to the Kentucky Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 15 percent of Kentucky high school students (1 in 7) reported having seriously considered suicide within a 12-month period. In addition, 17.4 percent of Kentucky middle school students (nearly 1 in 5) reported they had seriously considered killing themselves at some point in their lives.

America’s Health Ranking’s 2018 study revealed among Kentuckians age 15 to 24, there were 15.7 per deaths caused by intentional self harm per 100,000 population, which is higher than the national rate of 13.1.

It is estimated that more than 13 percent of teens have made a plan to commit suicide in the past 12 months.

Operation Parent, a Louisville-based parent-driven organization, recently released information about depression among teens, warning signs and prevention measures.

“Post holiday blues and seasonal affective disorder can cause depression during the month of January,” the release stated.” However, it can be difficult to differentiate between a depressed teen and one who is just sad, overwhelmed, or stressed.

“Teens are experts at masking their thoughts and feelings, which leaves most of them to deal with depression on their own. Research shows that up to 50 percent of depressed teens turn to substance abuse. The best thing a parent can do is to be involved in their teen’s life and to let them know that they can always talk to their parents about anything. If parents believe their teen is truly depressed, and they are exhibiting signs of sadness for more than two weeks, they should seek professional advice from their child’s physician or a licensed mental health professional.”

According to Operation Parent, parents who notice the following signs in their teen should seek professional advice immediately:

— Diminished interest or feeling no pleasure in activities

— Significant change in weight or appetite (also failure to gain weight as expected)

— Insomnia or increased sleepiness, fatigue or loss of energy

— Apparent or perceived thoughts of worthlessness or excessive guilt

— Trouble making decisions or trouble thinking and concentrating

— Withdrawing from others

 Lack of motivation.

Operation Parent is also hosting a free webinar, “The Keys to Reducing Anxiety and Depression in Children” from 2 to 3 p.m. Feb. 5. Parents can register at www.operationparent.org for the exclusive, live webinar featuring Dr. Stephen Van Schoyck, Ph.D. and guest interviewer Karen Lawrence.

This webinar makes learning more about this issue easily accessible for parents.

With the rise of social media, cyberbullying, bullying at school, stress over school and their future, at-home stressors, pressure to fit in and meet exceptions, along with mental illnesses, and more, teens face more emotional pain than many parents realize. The statistics speak for themselves.

Because teens may feel the need to hide their emotions, parents will need to work harder to stay connected with their children. Learning the warning signs and how to approach a child who may be depresses or suicidal will the key to reducing the alarming rate of suicides among America’s young people.