CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee (WDEF)- This week, a local high school student took his own life while on the phone with his girlfriend… forcing her to witness the whole event.
Erlanger Children’s Hospital CEO, Don Mueller says, “Across all of our facilities, what we are seeing is a rapid increase in the number of youth and teenagers committing suicide. I want to emphasize youth because we are seeing suicides happen as young as eight years old. So, this is not only something that is happening to teenagers and parents need to be aware that it is important that they talk to their children.”
Suicide is the second leading cause of death among teenagers in the U.S.
A recent study found that teen suicide went up 56% from 2007- 2017.
Mental Health experts say bullying and social media have both contributed to the rise.
Mueller also says, “What we are seeing from the other hospitals around the state of Tennessee is that it is correlated when kids are together and when kids are in school. We don’t see the incident rates as high in the summer time or during fall break. So, we are working very closely to try to figure out how do we help build a system that can get to the community and help children.”
The Vice Chair of the Tennessee Advisory Council of Suicide Prevention, Eve Nite says, “So, if you recognize things like a lost of interest in hobbies, isolation, depression, crying for seemingly no reason. Even things like stomach aches, headaches or unresolved pain that has really no medical origin. Those are warning signs that perhaps an evaluation needs to be done.”
According to the state government, Tennessee does not have enough mental health providers for children.
There are 5 psychiatrists for every 10,000 children in urban areas and only one in mostly rural locations.
Nite also says, “There is hope. There is help. We are here for them and um please reach out.”
If you know someone that is struggling with mental health, call 1-800-273-TALK.