Most people have high hopes when it comes to bringing in a new year. But what if that year doesn’t go as planned? What if the new year hasn’t started so well, especially for teenagers?
In a February article, it was discussed how teens all over the United States are openly talking about depression and thoughts of contemplating suicide. This is a terrifying reality to consider, especially when the statistics show these things are happening in Craig County at levels higher than the national average.
Here are some stats for high school age youth in Craig County.
• One in three self-reported having been depressed in the past year.
• One in five reported thinking about suicide in the past year.
• One out of every eight attempted suicide in the past year.
“We ask you to think about eight teenagers you know, eight teens that spend time at your house or you know from Food Country or Subway, eight teens that attend the same church as you,” J.D. Carlin, Craig County Prevention Planning Team (CPPT) Secretary said. “Statistically speaking, at least one of those eight has attempted to end their life.” Carlin is also a Prevention and Wellness Specialist with Blue Ridge Behavioral Healthcare.
The CPPT knows that they must do something to combat those statistics.
The first step is to look for signs that may indicate something is wrong. “If you have, or know, a teen who you feel may be depressed, please seek immediate medical or behavioral health attention from a professional,” one employee said.
Another essential step is calling a doctor or 911 if someone feels a youth is in immediate danger. Other important measures, according to CCPT employees, include:
1. Take it seriously – “It is not uncommon for those of us closest to the person feeling depressed and/or considering suicide to know something is wrong. It is also not uncommon for us to ignore that clue. We all have ups and downs. And when it is someone close to us, sometimes we feel that we have seen it before. But waiting, or ignoring, the signs of depression, in last month’s article, is not a good option. Depression and feelings of hopelessness do not just, ‘go away.’”
2. Communication is the key – “Be direct. Don’t beat around the bush. If you have concerns, ask them in a straightforward and understanding way. Make sure to express both your concern and your love. Share the specific things you see that concern you without being judgmental. At the same time, don’t overwhelm them with too many questions. Ultimately, try to have a conversation that shares your concerns, acknowledges their feelings and offers support for their future. And remember, they may not be able to put into words what they are feeling, so be patient.
The CCPT Team added that there are other ways one can help a teen in need:
• Make sure they get enough sleep – For some reason, many tend to underrate the importance of getting enough sleep even as adults. Teens need their sleep. Their brains need the break. Eight hours is the recommended amount per day. A healthy suggestion is to have your teens disconnect from all their electronic devices about an hour before going to bed.
• Eat healthy foods – Balanced meals are an important component to balanced emotions. Healthy foods help everyone sleep better, which increases one’s ability to manage and cope with the stresses of daily life. Also, try to limit sugar and caffeine intake especially!
• Exercise – Being active helps on many fronts. First, it causes the brain to release chemicals that help guard against depression. Second, it helps a person feel better about themselves. It is also a great way to deal with difficult situations and feelings.
• Be social – Encourage your teen to be social. In person. Face-to-face. Not just via technology. Hearing a person’s words is better than reading them. Giving a high-five can’t be done over the phone and seeing someone laughing is much more meaningful than merely getting a laughing emoji.
For more information, visit the RAYSAC blog at www.raysac.org or contact J. D. Carlin at [email protected].
A quote from an unknown author speaks volumes to those who want to give up: “Place your hand over your heart, can you feel it? That is called purpose. You’re alive for a reason so don’t ever give up.”