OCEAN COUNTY – While it may be hard to hear, it is important to be aware of: suicide has become the third leading cause of death among children and young adults aged 10-24.
While vape pens and underage drinking are the usual cause for concern, parents and guardians should also keep a close eye on teenagers for other risk factors.
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), 14 young people between the ages of 10 and 24 committed suicide from 2013 to 2015 in Ocean County. During the same two year period, there was a whopping 283 cases for the entire state.
“Sadly, society is putting more and more pressure on our young people today. Peer pressure, bullying, social media, drugs and alcohol are just some of the social challenges young people are trying to navigate,” said Ocean County Freeholder Gerry P. Little.
According to the same AFSP study, from 2013 to 2015, Ocean County had 1 of the 3 highest rates in the state for suicide attempts and self-inflicted injuries among 10 to 24 year olds.
“It’s become another public health issue with too many sad endings,” said Daniel E. Regenye, OCHD Public Health Coordinator. “However, research has shown suicide deaths can be preventable. The key is promoting the work of suicide prevention and mental health awareness. Increased collaboration with state, local and community partners is essential for success.”
Prevention efforts begin with educating pediatricians, primary health care providers, school personnel and families on how to recognize the warning signs of suicide and what action to take when intent is disclosed.
“Help is available. Young people need to be encouraged to speak with a trusted adult or call a suicide prevention hotline if they feel overwhelmed, depressed or are having suicidal thoughts, said Kimberly Reilly, OCHD Chief of Administrative Services. “Parents that are concerned their child may be suffering from depression or suicidal tendencies need to act quick – do not wait, seek professional help right away.”
Symptoms of depression or suicidal tendencies may be hard to detect. Officials note that challenges like divorce, remarriage, relationship problems and social media can be major factors.
“Earlier detection means earlier treatment,” Regenye added. “That’s why it is so important for parents, loved ones and educators to keep an eye out for the signs of depression or any other mental health concerns.”
For more information, or for links to suicide prevention websites and hotlines, visit the OCHD website at ochd.org.