Suicide: It’s something that you just talk about in light of news events

By Shelby Stewart
Staff Writer
With the deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bordaine, suicide has been a big talking point across news outlets.
According to the Center for Disease Control, the rates of suicide in teens has increased for both girls and boys between the ages 15-19, drastically since 2007. 2015 saw a 31 percent increase in male suicides and a 40 percent increase in female suicides, both of that age group.
“The trouble for teenagers is they have never been depressed before, so they don’t know there’s an end to it,” said Dr. Eric Herman, M.A L.L.P., Clinical Psychologist at DMC Children’s Hospital and at his private practice in Plymouth. “Parents need to say that everybody gets down sometimes, we’ll work through the problems and things get better.”
The topic of teen suicide in particular has been in the spotlight for the last year with the Netflix series 13 reasons why, which graphically depicts the suicide of a teen girl. A study by the Journal of American Medicine found that after the series release, google searches pertaining to how to commit suicide increased.
“Our school psychologist, Caitlin Tallon, shared that teens need guidance and need to talk with their parents about the popular TV shows like 13 Reasons Why and things in the media especially those news items about youth at risk,” said Diane Zedan, Director of Special Education at Brandon Schools. She also coordinates the mental health committee in the district. “ It is important to have those uncomfortable conversations and not shy away from them. There is a perception that talking about suicide puts thoughts in to teens’ heads but that is not the case. The concern is that the media glamorizes suicide, which is why it is important to have a continuing discussion with your child about it. An open dialog with your child will support them in sharing their feelings with their parent.”
Now that school is out, teens may be home alone more and just under the watch of their parents instead of teachers and other school officials. Herman stressed that things to look out for are changes in behavior.
“So if kids are becoming more withdrawn, staying to themselves, are not as talkative, maybe being depressed or extra down or just not getting enjoyment from things they used to like and enjoy,” he said. “It’s something that you just talk about, in light of all that has been happening in the news, it doesn’t have to be personal, just in general.”
“As director of special education, I coordinate the mental health committee in our district,” said Zedan.
“We develop and have put in place procedures and protocols that we use when there is a crisis, trauma or possible safety issue with any of our students, staff and families.Our mental health committee includes our school social workers, school psychologists, counselors, behavior interventionist and BGYA social worker.”
For any parents who fear their child may be hurting themselves or contemplating suicide, there are some actions they can take.
“Hurting yourself is not killing yourself, although it’s not good, and a lot of people who are hurting themselves may want to kill themselves. But it would be a reason to get a referral to see a therapist,” said Herman. “If they really feel or a child says they want to die, not like ‘I’ve had a bad day and wish I was dead,’ I mean active suicidal thoughts, go to the closest emergency room and they’ll do a psych evaluation.”
Zedan also has resources and places available to parents and students, such as and The Brandon Groveland Youth Assistance also provides all the schools with emergency cards that have emergency hotline phone numbers for students who may be struggling or who see others struggling.

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