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A new year and a new rise in mental health trends for teens and young adults.

Suicide Preventions

Generally, in the medical/mental health fields, January is a more relaxed month, a time to slow down after the fast paced end of the year with holidays, stress and everyone using up the last of their insurance after reaching their deductibles. January tends to be a time where new year’s resolutions are in full force, insurance deductibles reset and there is an optimistic view of the future. But, I am seeing an alarming trend, and after talking with other medical and mental health professionals, we are all experiencing something similar…January is excessively busy. What is going on? 

I tend to focus on teens and adolescents, and this blog will primarily be about them, but just so everyone understands, this is not just a problem for the younger generations. This affects everyone. What am I talking about? Depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts/actions, self-harm…. they all are on the rise at alarming rates. 

While scouring the internet to see what the trends are, I came across an article (link posted below) from the CDC stating that in the last decade, teen suicide has increased 76%. What in the world…. Here are some highlights from that article, although I encourage you all to read it in its entirely, as it will hopefully bring more awareness to parents, guardians, teachers, coaches and everyone else who is involved with these extraordinary populations. 

What is driving the rise in suicides among 10-19-year-olds?  Is it social media?  Technology? Bullying? Opiate addiction?  Do we even have an answer?  Regardless of the cause, with the CDC revealing teenage suicides have increased 76 percent in the last decade. Thus, an intervention must come first while we search for the reasons.”

  • teen suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death between 10-24 year olds between 2007-2017. 
  • causes may come from opioids, cyberbullying, technology/social media and increased reporting due to less stigma. 
  • parents addicted to substances often leads to increased depression and anxiety in teens
  • once one person commits suicide, there is a 5% increase of others who are fueled by the news
  • “Many countries note that with an increase in technology usage, including social media, consistent screen time on phones, computers, and tablets, there also seems to be an increase in suicidal behavior”. Unfortunately, many children have unlimited access to harmful things that can directly affect their mental health. 
  • chronic influx of too much information, skewed perceptions of self and others, attempting to constantly filter self, as well as decipher what is fake and real with others is overwhelming. 
  • 15-35% of young persons have been cyberbullied 
  • adults and children ages 25 years and younger are twice as likely to self-harm or become suicidal if cyberbullied. 
  • social media use by teens creates unrealistic views of life, a competition for shares and followers and they may base their worth on these things. 
  • technology/social media + very limited person to person contact = depression and anxiety
  • social media is an instant fix of attention or an instant deflator, and teens/children do not have the emotional/mental skills to learn how to properly cope. 
  • less family time, busier schedules, too much independence at too young of ages

Within all of this information there is a very good positive, the stigma of not talking about it is lifting and awareness is spreading for seeking help, speaking up and standing up for yourself. The main thing that parents and adults need to understand is AWARENESS. Being aware of what your teen is looking at, watching and getting into is incredibly important and if you don’t protect your children, who will? 

Some examples of awareness and things you can do are having open and honest communication, setting healthy restrictions on devices, limiting screen time during the day and 2 hours before bedtime and having family time and conversations. Once they are 18 they are out on their own, that is when they will be exposed to everything. It is up to us to do all that we can to protect the mental health and development of any children, teens and young adults in our lives. 

If you or your child/teen are interested in counseling, please feel free to contact me or any of our clinicians at Lighthouse Counseling.

National Suicide prevention lifeline: Call 1-800-273-8255

I am a counselor at Lighthouse Counseling at the beautiful downtown Waconia location. I enjoy working with children ages 6 and up, teens, college students, adults, couples, families and seniors. I focus on using a variety of strategies, based upon what may work best with each individual personality and situation. If you are interested in establishing a supportive, trusting and open relationship, then we may be a good fit and I would love to hear from you.

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