HEALTH—Teens and adolescents across America are committing suicide across our Nation at an alarming rate. Research suggests that exposure to a peer’s suicide can, in fact, have a “contagious” effect—especially among 12- to 13-year-olds. After reviewing more than 50 studies, a group of major health and media organizations developed recommendations that advise against “presenting suicide as a tool for accomplishing certain ends, such as revenge or recognition,” or “glorifying suicide or persons who commit suicide.”
Nearly one in five U.S. adults live with a mental illness (46.6 million in 2017). Mental illnesses include many different conditions that vary in degree of severity, ranging from mild to moderate to severe,” according to the
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), says “society has not taken the problem of suicide as seriously as traffic fatalities, noting changes in speed limits and use of seat belts.”
“There are some things we don’t know, which we need to understand better.” “Many people make attempts. Far fewer of those people die from suicide. And understanding who’s at the greatest risk for mortality would be a critical piece of this. That does require the kind of research that takes us into biological risks and other kinds of risks, as well. “
NIMH tweeted that “It can be tough to tell if troubling behavior in a child or teen is part of growing up or a problem that should be discussed with a health professional.”
NIMH said in a released statement “even under the best of circumstances, it can be hard to tell the difference between challenging behaviors and emotions that are consistent with typical child development and those that are cause for concern.”
NIMH says these are the important points that parents, teachers and other students should remember:
Points to Remember
- Always seek immediate help if a child engages in unsafe behavior or talks about wanting to hurt him or herself or someone else.
- Seek help when a child’s behavior or emotional difficulties last for more than a few weeks and are causing problems at school, at home, or with friends.
- A thorough evaluation can help determine if treatment is necessary, and which treatments may be most effective.
- Early treatment can help address a child’s current difficulties and can also help prevent more serious problems in the future.
NIMH says to seek help when you notice a change in your child’s behavior, change in communication and interacting with others in the family, school and community.
Young children may benefit from an evaluation and treatment if they:
⊲ Have frequent tantrums or are intensely irritable much of the time
⊲ Often talk about fears or worries
⊲ Complain about frequent stomachaches or headaches with no known medical cause
⊲ Are in constant motion and cannot sit quietly (except when they are watching videos or playing videogames)
⊲ Sleep too much or too little, have frequent nightmares, or seem sleepy during the day ⊲ Are not interested in playing with other children or have difficulty making friends
⊲ Struggle academically or have experienced a recent decline in grades
⊲ Repeat actions or check things many times out of fear that something bad may happen.
NIMH said that “older children and adolescents may benefit from an evaluation if they:
⊲ Have lost interest in things that they used to enjoy ⊲ Have low energy
⊲ Sleep too much or too little, or seem sleepy throughout the day
⊲ Are spending more and more time alone, and avoid social activities with friends or family ⊲ Fear gaining weight, or diet or exercise excessively
⊲ Engage in self-harm behaviors (e.g., cutting or burning their skin)
⊲ Smoke, drink, or use drugs
⊲ Engage in risky or destructive behavior alone or with friends
⊲ Have thoughts of suicide
⊲ Have periods of highly elevated energy and activity, and require much less sleep than usual
⊲ Say that they think someone is trying to control their mind or that they hear things that other people cannot hear.
The NIMH said, that “an evaluation by a health professional can help clarify problems that may be underlying a child’s behavior and provide reassurance or recommendations for next steps. It provides an opportunity to learn about a child’s strengths and weaknesses and determine which interventions might be most helpful.”
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic—children are faced with many challenges regarding online learning, illnesses, the virus, family members dying and infected, and communicating with their teachers and peers. “If your child has behavioral or emotional challenges that interfere with his or her success in school, he or she may be able to benefit from plans or accommodations that are provided under laws originally enacted to prevent discrimination against children with disabilities.”
The following organizations and agencies have information on mental health issues in children. Some offer guidance for working with schools and finding health professionals:
⊲ American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (www.aacap.org/). See Facts for Families (/www.aacap.org/AACAP/Families_and_Youth/Facts_for_Families/FFF-Guide/FFF-Guide-Table-of-Contents.aspx) on many topics.
⊲ Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (www.abct.org/Home/)
⊲ Society for Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology (https://sccap53.org/)
⊲ EffectiveChildTherapy.org (http://effectivechildtherapy.org/)
⊲ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (www.cdc.gov/). See the Children’s Mental Health page (www.cdc.gov/childrensmentalhealth/symptoms.html)
⊲ Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (www.chadd.org/)
⊲ Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (www.dbsalliance.org)
⊲ Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (https://iacc.hhs.gov/). See these webpages on Autism: Federal Agencies (https://iacc.hhs.gov/resources/federal-agencies/); Private and Non-Profit Organizations (https://iacc.hhs.gov/resources/private-organizations/); and State Resources (https://iacc.hhs.gov/resources/state-resources/)
⊲ International OCD Foundation (https://iocdf.org/)
⊲ Mental Health America (www.mentalhealthamerica.net/)
⊲ National Alliance on Mental Illness (www.nami.org/)
⊲ National Association of School Psychologists (www.nasponline.org/resources-ndpublications/families-and-educators)
⊲ National Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health (www.ffcmh.org/)
⊲ Stopbullying.gov (www.stopbullying.gov/)
⊲ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator (https://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/)
⊲ Tourette Association of America (www.tourette.org/)
If parents are seeking more information about mental health conditions that affect your child, “go to MentalHealth.gov at www.mentalhealth.gov, or the NIMH website at www.nimh.nih.gov. In addition, the National Library of Medicine’s MedlinePlus service (https://medlineplus.gov/) (En español: http://medlineplus.gov/spanish) has information on a wide variety of health topics, including conditions that affect mental health.”