In March, initial data from Michigan Suicide Prevention Commission reports suicides in kids 15-19 are decreasing. Suicide among ages 10-14 are increasing along with ages 20-39 and 70+. More than 47,000 people died by suicide in 2019. “I think that’s a little bit surprising,” says Stendel. “I think we all anticipated that suicide numbers would go up now this is in teenagers mind you this is not an overall. One is too many and the fact that it’s the second leading cause in teenagers that needs to come down.”
It’s been a challenge to help kids during the pandemic. September is National Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month. It is the second leading cause of death for ages 15-19.
“Isolation is very difficult especially for teenagers,” says Stendel. “Teenagers are very egocentric and friends of their world and so if you have where they’re not seeing their friends every day even though they can see them on social media and things like that that certainly does play apart in mental illness.” “It goes back and forth between the second leading cause of death in teens and third,” says Stendel. “Any death by suicide is is one too many.”
Changes in how people interact, how they meet or even how they learn can impact kids mentally. “We like many of the other mental health providers offered tele-health, but that wasn’t always accessible to everybody,” Stendel says.
“In rural communities access is always a problem,” says Stendel. “If you take a community like Mesick it may be very hard for kids in particular to get to appointments and say Traverse City or Cadillac and so that just became a little bit more difficult during the pandemic.” It can also disproportionately impact Native American or Alaskan Natives. There are also higher than average rates of suicide among people in rural areas.
“It can be anybody’s child and it’s I think that’s part of awareness about suicide is that there are many difficulties,” says Stendel. “Many kids contemplate suicide that can range anywhere from I am having a very difficult time and I don’t want to be on this Earth anymore. All the way to, I have a plan and I’m going to hurt myself and I’m planning on following through and those that do.” Support and access are two ways to fight mental illness and increasing suicide rates. Some ways to combat teen suicide or mental illness are to not stigmatize it.
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