CDC: 1 adolescent suicide every 5 days in U.S.
A study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention shows one adolescent suicide every five days across the United States.
“Specifically in Wisconsin, we have seen an increase in adolescent suicides,” says Lynn Stinski, the community outreach director for the Center for Suicide Awareness.
According to the Wisconsin Children’s Hospital, the Wisconsin adolescent suicide rate is a third higher than the national average.
This comes as more than 2,000 children under the age of 13 have died by suicide over the last two decades.
Experts say that large number is likely related to social media use.
“It used to be that if you weren’t invited to something … it wasn’t quite so immediate. If you didn’t get invited, you knew you missed out, but it wasn’t in your face,” says Lisa Schubring, a marriage and family therapist at Prevea Health. “Now we have the ability to know immediately if we did not get invited to something. Some kids are using social media to let other kids know that they’re not included.”
“The trend in cyber bullying, social media, the lack of one-on-one interaction, that really helps feed into that epidemic really,” says Stinski.
With children so reliant on their phones and apps, cyberbully can easily trickle into their daily lives. That’s when they could start displaying signs of depression: becoming withdrawn, less talkative, or displaying a change in diet.
For years, mental health professionals have seen these signs in young adults, but over the past few decades, the ages displaying these symptoms are even younger.
“We’re seeing 8, 9-year-olds that attempt, and unfortunately have died by suicide,” says Stinski.
“In that moment, they believe that this is the worst thing that has ever happened, and it’s never going to be better,” says Schubring. “They truly don't have the frontal lobe development to think about … tomorrow, the day after. They're really just living in that moment.”
Another hurdle comes as children struggle coming forward with their issues, especially when they’re required to speak face-to-face.
“Texting is the mode of communication for a majority of our population, particularly our youth,” Stinski says. “If a youth feels more comfortable texting their issues, their concerns, that they need help, then that's the way that we need to go, and that's what we did.”
The Center for Suicide Awareness created a 24/7 texting hotline, that is available for crisis counseling via text messages. The hotline is free and anonymous. It is available across the state of Wisconsin, if you text “HOPELINE” to 741741.