Pandemic could contribute to suicidal thoughts in teens, experts say

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SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) — Mental health experts say parents should pay attention to their teens’ behavior, as the pandemic could lead to increased anxiety, depression or suicidal thoughts.

According to a recent survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 11 percent of adults reported seriously contemplating suicide in late June. For young adults between 18 and 24, the rate was higher — about 25 percent had reported suicidal ideation.

Mental health experts say teens, already prone to depression and anxiety due to hormones and stress, could be at a higher risk for thoughts of suicide or self-harm. Additionally, teens may not present their struggles the same way adults do.

β€œThey may say things like, β€˜I’m really struggling,’ β€˜I’m overwhelmed,’ β€˜I don’t know what to do,’” Jacklyn Murphy, a certified marriage and family therapist said.

“We as adults don’t hear those statements and then when the statement is, β€˜I’m feeling suicidal,’ we question, β€˜Why didn’t you say something sooner?’ but the child did and we just missed it.”

According to Erin Harrison, a mental health counselor for Spartanburg District Five, there are additional possible warning signs parents should keep an eye out for: changes in behavior, changes in eating habits, social withdrawal, changes in interests or drops in grades.

Mental health experts recommend checking in on teens frequently and not shying away from tough questions. Additionally, they say, it’s important not to ignore statements of distress.

If suicidal thoughts are present, it is important to seek help immediately. Therapists recommend speaking to a trusted adult, seeking medication from a pediatrician or both.

  • To reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255). En EspaΓ±ol 1-888-628-9454
  • To reach the Crisis Text Line, text “HELLO” to 741741
  • If you or someone you love is in immediate danger of suicidal actions, call 911.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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