AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — More than 20% of teens have seriously considered suicide, that’s according to the American Psychological Association.
Suicide is a difficult topic of discussion, especially when it comes to young people.
But with factors like bullying, depression, and social media factoring into the state of many kids, knowing the signs is an important step in prevention.
“Some of the more obvious ones are if children begin talking about it or some may draw about it or write notes or other things about it,” said Natalie Scanlon, PH.D., Clinical Psychologist in the Department of Psychiatry at Texas Tech Physicians. “If you noticed any change in a child’s sort of normal baseline functioning. If they go from being more of an extroverted, social aide, to more isolated and introverted, that could be a warning sign.”
Dr. Scanlon told KAMR Local 4 News that there are other less obvious factors and warning signs to parents or caretakers.
“If you notice changes in academic performance or eating or sleeping, if you notice any reckless or risky behavior, especially substance use, that can be a warning sign. And then, certainly, if there are losses, if there are big changes, losses, breakups, that happen,” Scanlon explained.
Nationwide, suicide is the second leading cause of death in the United States for children ages 10-14, and the third leading cause of death for teens ages 15-19, that’s according to Texas Tech Health Sciences Center. Dr. Scanlon emphasizes talking to your kids, and tells KAMR that having open and honest conversation is the best thing parents can do.
“We actually know from a lot of data that you won’t do any harm by asking somebody about suicide,” Scanlon emphasized. “You will open the door to honest conversation, maybe about suicide, or just about them struggling in general. Ask, initiate a conversation.”
Another factor in prevention, Dr. Scanlon noted, is knowing where to go for help.
“We always talk about the 988 number. It’s available 24/7, it’s free, it’s confidential. You can text it, you can call it, and somebody will help you through that mental health crisis over the phone or via text,” Scanlon told MyHighPlains.com.
An important resource in the fight for life.
For more information on suicide prevention, click here.