Is Teen Suicide the Real Pandemic?

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Genesis Grajales, Staff Writer

Is Teen Suicide the Real Pandemic?

Teens face many challenges, ever-changing emotions, complicated relationships and so much more. Add to that, the pressures of high school, working, peer pressure, planning for college, and facing the great unknown. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry states, “Suicide is the second leading cause of death for children, adolescents, and young adults ages 15 to 24 years old.”

Depression is one of the major illnesses leading teens to suicide. This can be brought on by things like lack of sleep, feelings of inadequacy, anxiety, addiction, insecurities, bullying, relationships, abuse, lack of support, abandonment, social media, and a negative self-image. With that said, teens need support more than ever.

Parents, teachers, and other adults need to be aware of the signs of a teen struggling with depression or suicidal ideation. These can include things like mood swings, changes in appetite and sleeping habits, withdrawal from friends and activities, talking about or hinting to suicide, self-harm, and isolation. The extreme quarantine rules and closings due Covid have only complicated these.

At the Board of Education meeting last night, the school board voted to use funds to increase the nursing staff in order to conduct more Covid testing and contact tracing, however, the Iredell-Statesville Schools have had no student deaths from Covid and as of last week, have had seven student deaths due to suicide. It’s clear there is a great need for intervention and support for teens when it comes to mental health.

What teens need to know is that every life has value. No matter what has happened, what choices they have made, who likes them or not, how they dress or look, they have value. They matter. Anyone who says otherwise is wrong.

To anyone who may be struggling with depression, thoughts of harming themselves, or thoughts of ending their own life, you matter. There are people who want to help. There are peers who would be willing to support you. There is always a reason to keep fighting. What is heavy today may not be your load to carry tomorrow. Don’t give up!

Anyone contemplating suicide can all the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text CONNECT to 741741. Reach out…you are worth it!