LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - A new JAMA report that looked at data from a CDC survey revealed that the number of children visiting emergency rooms due to suicide attempts or suicidal behavior have doubled since 2007.
In 2007, there were 580,000 patients. In 2015, there were 1.12 million. These kids range in age from as young as 5 years old to 18 years old.
Elizabeth Scrivner, M.A., LPC, of Dallas has been a licensed professional counselor for 20 years, and she knows how critical this issue is.
“Statistics are showing this. They are fact-based and researched, but we have to attack this at a ground-level and we cannot be discouraged by the fact that they’re up. It’s absolutely terrifying. I cannot tell you how many people I personally know who have children on suicide watch,” Scrivner said.
“SAT scores, ACT scores, the college you went to, how beautiful or thin you are, how wealthy or poor you are… those cannot be how we measure the people around us. We need to measure people by who they are and the space that they’re in and that comes with loving people and showing them the basics of respect.”
“That’s why we have to address this big picture as a society...one where we put loving our average fellow American who sits next to me at lunch, who is my teacher or my principal or my coworker,” she said.
She says social media has a big impact on these high numbers.
“Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook...whether you’re three or 83, it can be a positive or a negative.”
“To say that all of this information, because we now can get it in an easier fashion, is a bit skewed. I don’t want to take away from the spotlight of this issue because I’m so passionate about it, but I want people to be alarmed,” she said.
She says the biggest thing you can do is not to have shame.
“You can’t see your therapist too many times, you can’t see your doctor too many times, you can’t try to help your kid too many times, and so sometimes we get stuck on the fact that people are going to the E.R. and that’s the negative. I don’t want people to think that… going is the positive."
In Lubbock, one resource for Texas Tech University students is the RISE (Risk Intervention and Safety Education) program. Program Coordinator Elena Sanchez-Freeman said that prevention is key and they are a helpful first step.
“We’re here so that you can ask us for help and then that is a step in getting help. How are you supposed to start your healing process or work through any mental health challenges if you don’t know who to ask for help? Hopefully that’s who we are setting an example for. We are a resource for them for education and for information of where they can get help. We’ll connect you with resources,” Sanchez said.
The RISE program is free of charge. To make an appointment with a coordinator head to depts.ttu.edu/rise