Rates of Youth Suicide Have Tripled Since 2007

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CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) — Most adults struggle to understand why a young child would commit suicide.

The apparent suicide last week of a 4th grader from Orchard Knob Elementary school, has the community focused on the issue.

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According to the CDC, the suicide rate for children aged 10-14 tripled from 2007 to 2017. In Tennessee, there were 51 suicides by children 10 to 17 in 2017 alone.

The big question on everyone’s mind about child suicide, is why?

According to a piece on youth suicide, written by State Representative Robin Smith, for the Patriot Post, a conservative website, it’s partially because of negative messages coming from the political left.

“My premise was, these last two, three generations of kids have been so exposed to an onslaught of opinion that’s just not healthy, saying that the earth is being destroyed, that, we’re – and even the CDC referenced ‘deaths of despair’,” said Tennessee State Representative Robin Smith.

But Eve Nite, Vice Chair for the State Advisory Council for Suicide Prevention says there is no one cause that’s been identified.

“There’s lots of researchers trying to do that, there’s lots of research coming in from the most prestigious institutes, looking at – why exactly have we seen this increase and overwhelmingly what they find is that you can’t just point at one thing and say, ‘Well, it’s because of this’,” said Eve Nite, Vice Chair of the Tennessee Advisory Council for Suicide Prevention.

And, Nite says, she thinks it would be far more helpful to focus efforts on saving those who can be saved, than looking for causes, or finger pointing.

Ms. Nite said, “Nothing gets better if we waste all of our time arguing about that. I think that the message that we should have for our community is, how can we go to the evidence based practices that we see other communities using and where they see positive change, and how can we utilize and integrate those practices into what we do at home at school, in our medical facilities and in our community?”

The group with the highest rate of suicides—-by far—, is middle aged white males.The rate for youth suicide, however, is the fastest rising rate of all age groups.

“In fact the second leading cause of death for people aged 10 to 34 is suicide,” said Ms. Nite.

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Ashley is a lifetime Chattanooga area resident, and a 1987 graduate from UTC, with a BA in communications. While there, he was commissioned through the ROTC program, served simultaneously in the 1/181st field artillery Tn. Army National Guard, finished Airborne school, was a member of the Scabbard and Blade military honor society and ROTC Rangers, the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity, played snare drum with the UTC Marching band, and played in a southern rock band called Southern Atmosphere, while working a full time job as a trainer at the Sports Barn. He also won the Southeastern United States teenage bodybuilding competition during this time. Ashley has been with News 12 Now for 21 years. Prior to working here he was a videographer, director, producer and editor at Falcon Cable TV in Dalton, Ga. for 6 years where he produced thousands of commercials and dozens of hour long features. He also worked as a freelancer and employee at another network affiliate in Chattanooga. He has operated a part time video production business from home for 25 years. He says his passion is telling stories that feature people who give of themselves to help others, and stories that inspire people to make positive changes in themselves and their communities. Ashley is ecstatically married to Debbie Henderson, and has two step sons, a daughter in law, a sister, and lots of aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews, and great nieces and nephews. His parents are celebrating their 60th anniversary this year. Ashley and Debbie are active members of Brainerd Baptist Church. His interests include weight training and cycling with his wife, photography, poetry, playing drums, and checking off items from his extensive honey-do list. If you would like to reach Ashley, email him at ahenderson@wdef.com.