There has been an alarming spike in attempted suicides among teens during the pandemic, especially teenage girls, the CDC reported.
During February 21 to March 20, 2021, suspected suicide-attempt ER visits were 50.6% higher among girls aged 12 to 17 years than during the same period in 2019; among boys aged 12 to 17 years, suspected suicide-attempt ER visits increased 3.7%.
Cheryl Delk is the program coordinator for the Youth Mental Health Program at the Mental Health Association Oklahoma. She said parents and really anyone who is concerned about a friend can make an impact by simply being brave enough to have a conversation.
"You can either get involved and become comfortable in an area that you are uncomfortable with and help that young girl or that young boy walks that journey and still be here tomorrow, or you're taking the chance of that individual not being here tomorrow," Delk said.
She said girls are really crave connections, so the separation and isolation can be challenging. As things begin to return to normal, she said there is hope that these attempted suicide rates will go back down.
"We know that in adolescent years, your peers are almost the most important thing in your life. You still need Mom and Dad. You still love Mom and Dad, but those peers are what build who we are and our identity," Delk said.
Another issue is the stigma surrounding mental health.
"We've just got to eliminate the stigma around mental health in general, but we also have to eliminate that stigma that society puts on parents that you have to be perfect and if you were doing your job, your children wouldn't have any struggles," Delk said.
There are a variety of subtle and more pronounced warning signs that someone is contemplating suicide. Some of those include withdrawing from activities they are passionate about, giving important things away, oversleeping or sleep deprivation.
Click here for more information from the Mental Health Association Oklahoma.
It is our policy to provide resources for anybody considering self-harm when reporting about a situation involving suicide or a suicide attempt.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a hotline for individuals in crisis or for those looking to help someone else. To speak with a certified listener, call 1-800-273-8255. Click here to view the Lifeline Crisis Chat.
The Veterans Crisis Line and Military Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 (Press 1) connect veterans and service members in crisis and their families and friends with qualified, caring U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs responders through a confidential toll-free hotline, online chat, or text.
Crisis Text Line is a texting service for emotional crisis support. To speak with a trained listener, text HELLO to 741741. It is free, available 24/7, and confidential.