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#JamesDonaldson on #MentalHealth – #Teen #SuicideRisk During The #Pandemic

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The #teenager had spent most of her time in her room during the summer.

With the #pandemic in full swing, she had not been able to see her friends in-person and her family did not go on any vacations. She spent most of her time scrolling through her #socialmedia feeds and binge watching shows.

Recently, #school had started on-line and the teenager’s #parents had noticed she had become more despondent and slept much of the time when she was not in her classes. What conversations that had with her were about the feeling of being in a void where it did not matter whether she was here or not.

#JamesDonaldson notes:

Welcome to the “next chapter” of my life… being a voice and an advocate for #mentalhealthawarenessandsuicideprevention, especially pertaining to our younger generation of students and student-athletes.

Getting men to speak up and reach out for help and assistance is one of my passions. Us men need to not suffer in silence or drown our sorrows in alcohol, hang out at bars and strip joints, or get involved with drug use.

Having gone through a recent bout of #depression and #suicidalthoughts myself, I realize now, that I can make a huge difference in the lives of so many by sharing my story, and by sharing various resources I come across as I work in this space.  #http://bit.ly/JamesMentalHealthArticle

Most people’s #mentalhealth has been negatively impacted since the start of the #pandemic. #Teenagers have been particularly affected with rates of #mentalillness increasing.

Now that school has started back, #teenagers have to balance the #isolation of being at home with the increased #stress of schoolwork. This combination increases the likelihood of #teenagers experiencing #suicidalideation or even attempting #suicide.

Even before the #pandemic, #suicide was the leading cause of death among school age #youth. In 2015, 18% of 9th to 12th graders seriously considered #suicide with 9% having made an attempt one or more times. Since #teenagers are home most of the time, #parents will need to pay particular attention to their #teenagers #mentalhealth and #suicidalideation.

There are several risk factors for #suicide that #parents can look for in their #teenagers. Some of these risk factors are more prevalent during the #pandemic, such as a lack of social support, feelings of #isolation and hopelessness, experiencing serious losses and having barriers to accessing services. There has also been an increase in family conflict due to increased unemployment and other stressors related to the #pandemic.

This can lead #teenagers to display changes in behavior, appearance, thoughts and feelings.

Additional risk factors of #suicide include #teenagers who are being bullied, struggling with their sexual orientation and having a previously diagnosed psychiatric disorder like #anxiety or #depression. #Teenagers at-risk for #suicide also can have alcohol or substance use issues, a prior history of #suicide attempts, and a family history of #suicide.

These issues can lead #teenagers to making suicidal threats such as saying they are going to kill themselves or that they wish they could fall asleep and never wake up again. They may also make #suicide notes or plans and post them to #socialmedia. The danger of #suicide increases further if #teenagers have access to lethal means like guns, pills, or knives.

If #parents suspect their #teenager is in immediate risk, they need to take them to the emergency room or call 911. There is also help available through the #NationalSuicidePreventionLifeline (1-800-273-TALK) and Crisis Text Line (text “HOME” to 741741).

If a #teenager is showing some at-risk signs of #suicide but is not an immediate risk, #parents can work on building protective factors that can decrease the risk. #Teenagers who have strong connections to family and friends are less likely to harm themselves as they feel loved and supported.

Restricting access to lethal means in the home like putting guns in gun safes and locking up various medicines can decrease impulsive #suicide attempts.

Finally, getting #teenagers access to #mentalhealth interventions and effective care can decrease many of the risk factors.

#Teenage #suicide has been a prevalent problem in the past and is being exacerbated by the #pandemic. As the school year starts on-line, #parents need to keep tabs on their teenager’s #mentalhealth by frequently engaging them in conversation and paying attention to #suicideriskfactors. If it seems like a #teenager is struggling, reach out for help from #mentalhealth practitioners and let the #teenager know that their #parents are there for her.


Dan Florell, Ph.D., is a professor at Eastern Kentucky University and has a private practice, MindPsi (www.mindpsi.net). Praveena Salins, M.D., is a pediatrician at Madison Pediatric Associates (www.madisonpeds.com).

Photo by SplitShire on Pexels.com

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