I just wrote an article on teen depression that appeared in The Miami Herald. For the article, I interviewed Pamela Leal, the mother of Bailey Leal who committed suicide two years ago when she was only 17. My conversation with Pam stayed with me for days. It was clear to me that she not only loved her daughter, but expressed that love to her. Of course, there were signs that Bailey was depressed and suffering …but would any of us catch the signs?
Teen depression and the increasing rates of teen suicide is SCARY! A study released in May tracking 32 children’s hospitals nationwide showed that admissions for suicidal behavior and serious self-harm among 5-to-17-year-olds more than doubled between 2008 and 2015. As Time Magazine notes: that’s just a tiny percentage of the kids who are experiencing major depression or anxiety or are hurting themselves in various ways, like cutting. Nationally, 17.7% of teens reported seriously considering attempting suicide in 2015, according to the CDC.
In interviewing sources for my article, something I learned from Graciela Jimenez, psychotherapist with the Care and Counseling Services for Baptist Health South Florida, stood out. She said it’s okay to ask your teen if he or she is thinking about suicide, if you see a sign. She said parents often are afraid to ask because they don’t want to put the idea in their child’s head, but it is better to address it, she said.
I encourage you to read my article and learn as much about the signs of teen depression as possible. If you are dealing with a mental health issue with your teen, please share your experiences and thoughts with other parents. This blog is an important place for parents to help each other.