Don’t ignore CDC’s suicide report
Psychologist talks about how the high trend is being seen locally
Startling statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show the suicide rate among teenage girls has hit a 40-year high.
According to data released Thursday, suicide rates doubled among girls and increased more than 30 percent among teen boys between 2007 and 2015.
At Cook Children’s, this news comes as no surprise to the behavioral health care workers who see the young adults struggling with depression and other mental health challenges each day.
“It’s not surprising. It’s absolutely heartbreaking, but not surprising,” said Lisa Elliott, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist and manager of Cook Children’s Behavioral Health in Denton.
Since 2015, the number of children and teens admitted to Cook Children’s Medical Center after trying to kill themselves has increased significantly. There’s no data available yet to say for certain how many more of these cases there have been, but it’s safe to say the percentage is in the double digits.
“We see the increase in the numbers of calls we receive from parents looking for help whether it’s for therapy or hospitalization,” said Elliott. “Not only is this a real problem across the country, but it’s affecting families right here in North Texas.”
Elliott says one big mistake parents make is believing that stories like this don’t apply to their children. She says when suicide is in the news, parents should use those stories as an opportunity to talk to their kids and teens.
“Ask them why they think this is happening and if they find themselves wishing they weren’t here,” said Elliott. “You can find out a lot about how they are feeling, and how their friends are feeling.”
Also know that kids may not tell you the truth, even if you ask.
“I think it’s important for parents to be mindful and recognize warning signs of suicide, even if their child denies having suicidal thoughts,” Elliott said.
Warning signs of teen suicide include:
- Increased use of alcohol/drugs
- Preoccupied with death (writing, drawings)
- Talking about feelings of hopelessness
- Talking about being a burden to others
- Telling loved ones goodbye
- Decline in performance
- Giving prized possessions away
- Isolating and withdrawing
- Acting highly anxious or agitated
- Acting reckless and taking risks
- Changes in sleeping and/or eating
- Dramatic changes in personality and/or appearance
Bottom line, Elliott says kids need to understand that problems are temporary, but suicide is permanent.
If you feel your child needs help, please click here to find a Cook Children's Behavioral Health location near you. You can also address your concerns with your child’s pediatrician, psychologist or therapist.
Cook Children's Behavioral Health Center
Growing up in today's world is hard and many children or teens may go through life experiences that cause them to feel anxious, depressed or even suicidal. As a parent or a caregiver, it can be hard to know when to ask for help. The Behavioral Health Center brings all services together in an expanded space that will provide a talented, dedicated team of caregivers, physicians and professionals with the facilities, resources, tools and programs they need to ensure that these most vulnerable children receive the high quality treatment they need and deserve. Click here to learn more about an appointment or referral.