Suicide Rates for Young People are on the Rise in Arkansas and Nationwide
The problem of suicide had once been seen as a strictly teenage problem. However, it has been shown that in Arkansas, and across the country, even younger adolescents are taking their own lives at alarming rates. And while overall suicide rates are still concerning in areas such as Miller County, where the rate is 11.4 percent, a new focus is being placed on suicide in the young.
According to recent data from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide is the second leading cause of death for Arkansas residents between the ages of 10 and 34, proving that this tragic epidemic is affecting younger Arkansas residents at a disproportionate rate.
Unfortunately, there is very little research being done on suicide in children under the age of 14, despite the fact that this problem is plaguing this particular age group. This void in the literature is problematic for many reasons, especially since a lack of information means that many adults are unaware that the problem of youth suicide is so prevalent.
Additionally, it can be difficult to predict suicidal behaviors in young people because they often manifest so differently than they do in adults.
Generally speaking, however, teens who commit suicide are more likely to exhibit prior self-harming behaviors and other symptoms of depression, while younger children at risk for suicide often display attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) traits, especially extreme impulsivity.
These warning signs can often be confused with normal adolescent reactivity or typical teenage moodiness, so parents and other adults who work with young people will require education from a qualified source to learn ways of discerning between typical behaviors and mood shifts and more extreme symptoms that are beyond what are considered developmentally appropriate, and could signal a problem of clinical significance.
Knowing the Difference
Dr. Lisa Boesky is a clinical psychologist, author, and expert on adolescent suicide. She says younger children will often take their lives impulsively, while teens do so after exhibiting symptoms of depression and rapid mood swings. Boesky lists the following warning signs as indicators that your child, patient, or student may be at risk for suicide:
- Increased sadness
- Increased irritability
- Increased anger
- Suddenly losing interest in their friends or activities
- Beginning to isolate themselves
- Saying concerning things such as “I wish I were dead” or “I wish I could go to sleep forever”
- Giving away prized possessions
Where to Turn
If you believe that a young person in your life is at risk for self-harm, you are no doubt worried about him or her. Yet, it is important to know that help exists in Arkansas in the form of treatment programming that is specifically designed to address suicidality and mental health conditions in young people.
Begin researching options for care in your area today, or call the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to learn more about getting support.
However, if the young person is in immediate danger, contact help immediately by calling the emergency response personnel in your area.