Teen suicide experts: Parents should look for warning signs

Suicide is the third leading cause of death in teenagers. That is why programs like TeenLine are necessary.

“There is a lot of pressures, whether it be school, relationships, many may things play a factor. It really depends on what is going on in that youngster’s life and what triggers them at times,” said Barry Sloane, a senior counselor at TeenLine.

Based out of Holy Spirit Hospital, the program provides mental health services and education in schools in Cumberland and Perry counties and a 24-hour hotline. It is co-funded through the hospital and the county.

“A lot of times when young people are going trough struggles, it is their friends who notice it first, and they can really be the ones on the frontline of helping them and reaching out,” Sloane said.

It is also possible they can reach out on social media. Facebook allows users to report any posts that appear suicidal.

“It goes right to the National Suicide Prevention Life Line. A safety team reviews that immediately and they will reach out to that person to try to connect them with a counselor, either through a live chat or letting them know where they can call to get some help,” Sloane said.

There is a concern that bullying has a direct connection to teen suicides. Experts with the Center For Safe Schools provide bullying education programs in schools across the nation.

“They don’t really know if there is a connection. What they do know is that for young people that are bullied, that certainly leads to depression and we know that there is certainly a link between depression and suicide,” said Stephanie Roy, special projects managing coordinator at the Center For Safe Schools.

There are suicide warning signs parents can look for.

“If parents are seeing changes in a child’s behavior, that may be an indication that something is going on. Are they acting very different when they come home from school? Do they seem anxious, depressed, complaining about being sick and not wanting to go to school. It is very common for kids not to want to talk about things that are going on in their life. If our response to that child is calm and measured, then the child is more willing to keep talking,” Roy said.

For help:

TeenLine 1-800-722-5385

Center For Safe Schools: www.Center-School.org

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