High School Suicide Brings Focus on “Silent Epidemic”

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Jill Chadwick

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          A Lee’s Summit North High School student died of a reported self-inflicted gunshot wound while inside the school early Friday morning. Many in the Metro who work with children and teenagers say this exemplifies a silent epidemic that’s happening.  The rate of suicide has been going up steadily since 2006, nationally and here at home. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for children behind accidents according to the CDC.

The medical director for The University of Kansas Health System – Marillac Campus says he sees an increase in admissions in September when a new school year begins and students face pressures ranging from performance to popularity issues. People are often reluctant to talk about suicide with children, which worries healthcare providers like Dr. Mitchell Douglass.

 “Parents, teachers and peers need to learn and watch for the signs of suicide,” Dr. Douglass said. “Don’t ignore talk of wanting to die or going to sleep and never waking up. These are important cues that a child is suffering and may need professional help.” 

            September is national suicide prevention month. If someone you know is showing signs of suicide, they can find help by calling the suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-talk (8255) or texting 741-741. People can also get help at any hospital emergency department. Children or parents can also get help at a children’s’ psychiatric hospital like Marillac.  All are open 24/7 for evaluations and help. “At Marillac, there is no need to call ahead … just come,” Dr. Douglass said.

            In the video, Dr. Douglass shares more signs of suicide among children and offers two questions you should ask to get the conversation going and find help.  He also talks about how students are evaluated for suicide and then treated.