More Kids Are Showing Up To ERs With Mental Health Crises
WARNING: You're going to hear doctors and a family talk about suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts, and about children who've killed themselves.
17-year-old Christian Brown and dad Carlos are bouncing back after an incredibly tough year. Christian attempted suicide in March with a gun. He says he felt his depression and loneliness might never go away. "I just felt alone, I was scared, like just scared and alone," said Christian. The latest CDC data shows 2.5% of students nationwide attempted suicide and required medical treatment in 2019, and about 1 in 5 U.S. students said they seriously considered an attempt. "A lot of people have talked about how the pandemic has really impacted our mental health. But we can see from this, these results, that there was a problem really, really on the rise before the pandemic even started," said Dr. Audrey Brewer.
New research shows the number of teens with suicidal thoughts were already rapidly growing before the pandemic's mental health impact.The number of 5 to 19-year-olds who were hospitalized with suicidal thoughts jumped almost 60% between fall 2019 to fall 2020. "We need to really start thinking about the root of it all and looking at how we can prevent and intervene a lot sooner for our youth," said Dr. Brewer.Models predict by 2024 the mental health workforce will be short by as many as 31,000 psychiatrists. Another new study breaks down how that impacts youth suicide. It shows kids as young as 5 are more likely to kill themselves if they live where there are not enough mental health care workers. Those counties also have higher poverty rates and fewer people with health insurance. More than two-thirds of U.S. counties don't have enough mental health workers. "We need everyone who sees children on a day-to-day basis to have some basic understanding of how to recognize a mental health crisis," said Dr. Jennifer Hoffmann. As for the Browns, Christian had a two-month hospital stay, two surgeries, and rehab.
Doctors replaced his jawbone with partial lower leg bone. The family is saving for dental implants because he lost 11 teeth. "I tell him every day, it won't be as bad as it was yesterday," said Carlos. He is now learning to drive and is back at school. "He is comfortable. And the fact that he is comfortable, I'm so proud of that because the outside doesn't matter as much as the inside. And he knows that. He has a beautiful heart, beautiful mind," said Carlos. Dad adds parents should look for warning signs in their kids, too. Those signs include changes in sleeping or eating, withdrawal, alcohol, or drug use. We've linked an extensive list from Johns Hopkins with this story online. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends doctors universally screen for suicide for anyone 12 and up. For younger children, it's recommended to screen if the child has a mental health condition or shows suicidal warning signs.
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