It’s time to take suicide seriously

It’s time to take suicide seriously

Suicide rates continue to creep up across the nation. On average, there are about 125 suicides each day. While middle-aged white men are the most common victims, more and more kids are dying by suicide. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says suicide is now the second-leading cause of death among youth.

What might drive a child or teenager to #suicide, with so much of their life ahead of them? Dr. Sean Ackerman offers insight in this #MentalHealthMonday video. #TimeForKids pic.twitter.com/MN7UkuzsXk

— SSM Health Wisconsin (@ssmhealthwi) September 17, 2018

A taboo topic

Suicide ideation is emotionally intense. It’s hard for many people to talk about their emotions and feelings in the first place – they’re very personal things. Imagine the difficulty of opening up about thoughts of suicide.

“We need to make it acceptable for them to talk about their feelings,” said SSM Health psychiatrist Dr. Sean Ackerman. “And we need to help parents know what to watch for in terms of warning signs.”

Signs to look for

There are many possible warning signs for suicide, none of which are universal:

Change in mood: Sadness, anxiety, irritability
Change in behavior: Isolation, impulsiveness, aggression
Change in sleep
Change in appetite
Feeling hopeless or worthless
Drop in grades
Risk-taking
Giving away prized possessions
These signs or symptoms might not always be easily apparent, but something you could see online or on a child’s social media pages.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has numerous resources for parents and caregivers on the topic of digital awareness.

The question of why

Some people wonder why suicide is such an issue for teens and adolescents. After all, they have their whole lives ahead of them. There are many reasons kids want to hurt themselves, from depression and anxiety to trauma. But there’s also the fact that their brains won’t be fully developed until age 25.

“Teens don’t always think very far in the future,” Ackerman said. “In the moment, their pain can seem endless and making that pain go away may be the only important thing for them.”

If you’re worried about your child hurting himself or herself, you can reduce the risk by eliminating their access to means of suicide. For example, do not keep unlocked firearms in the house, or medications that kids can easily access.

“Teens are impulsive by nature and make a lot of quick decisions, so limiting their access to easy ways they could hurt themselves can potentially save someone’s life and save a family a lot of heartache,” said Ackerman

We’re closing in on 20,000 #TimeForKids #TimeToTalk activity books given away! Order yours today to help your kids better understand their emotions: https://t.co/QGBsLom8Z3 @WISCTV_News3 pic.twitter.com/i04Bx9ribz

— SSM Health Wisconsin (@ssmhealthwi) August 3, 2018

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