There is absolutely no glossing over the fact that our country is in a volatile state. It's almost scary to turn on the news each day because of what we might discover that just happened across the country or right in our own backyard. There is an incredibly troubling spike in the death rate recently in the 10 to 19-year-old age range and it all boils down to four main factors: suicide, homicide and gun violence, and drug overdoses. As parents, here's what we all need to know.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (otherwise known as the CDC) released an alarming study, revealing this spike in the 10 to 19-year-old age range. The study shared that between 2013 and 2016, the death rate has soared to 12% total. Parents shared that, "the top three causes for teen deaths are unintentional injuries, suicide, and homicide," via Heather Senior Monroe, LCSW and Director of Program Development at Newport Academy. "Unintentional injuries include poisoning—90% drug overdoses—and motor vehicle accidents."
With the recent loss of public figures like Kate Spade and Antony Bourdain, suicide is obviously in the forefront and something we all need to form a united front to protect those we love from making this choice. Looking at the suicide aspect of the CDC study, it highlights that this was the second leading injury intent among ages 10–19 years in 2016, declined 15% between 1999 and 2007, and then increased to 56% between 2007 and 2016. The male-to-female suicide rate ratio did narrow over the period as the recent percentage increases were greater for females than males. Additionally, firearms accounted for 43% of all suicides.
Homicide was noted as the third leading intent of injury death in 2016, fluctuated and then declined 35% between 2007 and 2014 before increasing 27% in 2016.
While many different factors contribute to suicide such as social isolation, lack of mental health treatment, drug and alcohol abuse, and gun ownership, there is a lot of work to be done as parents to help decrease these rates among our children. Monroe outlined that, "parents need to learn the warning signs for teen substance abuse and suicide in order to be vigilant when it comes to their child’s mental health."
So what should we be looking for exactly? CBS news alerted parents to watch out for irritability, sleepiness, stress, disobeying of rules, running away, selling their loved items, writing about death, experimenting with drugs and alcohol, wanting to be alone, constantly complaining of being sick, and always seeming to be bored are good indicators that a conversation needs to happen. And of course, contacting the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is always a great place to turn for advice.
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