Thursday, April 1, 2010

Is your child at risk for suicide?

When a young person takes his or her life, we all cringe because we immediately recognize the tragedy. Today’s paper had a brief article about a James Monroe MS student who attempted suicide in the boy’s restroom at school. Thankfully school personnel were able to revive the student and transport the child to UNM Hospital. But the article reminded me that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. As pressures build on our children, sometimes the problems become overwhelming and suicide emerges as a workable solution in their minds.

According to the 2007 NM Youth Risk and Resiliency Survey (YRRS) students in grades 9-12 reported:
Survey Question APS Students NM Students
Persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness in the past 12 months. 29.2% 30.8%
Seriously considered suicide. 18.1% 19.3%
Made a suicide plan. 13.4% 15.1%
Attempted suicide. 12.9% 14.3%
Injured in a suicide attempt. 5.4% 4.8%

Consider these facts:
• Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death for 15-24 year olds nationally and in NM. The first two leading causes are accidents and homicide)
• New Mexico has the 3rd highest suicide rate in the nation for 15-24 year olds.

Adolescent depression is a increasing at an alarming rate. Recent survey data indicates as many as one in five teens suffers from clinical depression. This is a serious problem that calls for appropriate treatment. Depression can be difficult to diagnose in teens because we adults may expect teens to act moody. This is compounded by fact that many teens don’t feel comfortable discussing their feelings with adults.

Symptoms that may indicate depression, particularly when they last more than two weeks include: poor performance in school, withdrawal from friends and activities, sadness and hopelessness, lack of energy or enthusiasm, anger or rage, overreaction to criticism, or substance abuse.

If you suspect your child may be depressed or at risk for suicide, take action. Remember suicide is the number one preventable cause of death. You should consider:
• Having an honest discussion with your child
• Have them see a physician or psychologist
• Speak to your school counselor

Suicide is not a victimless act. My family suffered when my father took his life at the age of 53 after his clinical depression went undiagnosed and untreated. Had we known back in 1983 what we know today, we might have been able to prevent it. If you suspect your child may be at risk, please get him or her help. Don’t wait until it is too late! May you all enjoy a blessed Easter weekend.

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