Health experts monitoring troubling trend among young Kentuckians

It’s a troubling trend - suicide rates among children are rising. Not only nationally, but in Kentucky too.
Published: Jun. 8, 2022 at 4:21 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - It’s a troubling trend - suicide rates among children are rising. Not only nationally, but in Kentucky too.

The suicide rate for boys ages 10 to 14 tripled between 2007 and 2020. For girls, the number more than tripled. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among children in this age group, according to the National Center for Health.

“I’m hopeful when you hear these numbers, is that it will help people advocate for more mental health services and to advocate for more funding to go to mental health services so that we can better support our kids,” said Dr. Meghan Marsac, a pediatric psychologist at Kentucky Children’s Hospital.

In Kentucky, the CDC found that one in seven high school students and nearly one in five middle school students “seriously considered” suicide.

What should a parent do if their child comes to them and says, “I’m struggling. I’m considering hurting myself?“

“Anytime that you are afraid that you cannot keep your child safe, our recommendation is to take them to the emergency room or a crisis intervention center to have them assessed,” Dr. Marsac said.

Unfortunately, children won’t always ask for help.

Isolation, loss of interest in things they used to find enjoyable, increased sadness and a change in sleep patterns are among red flags parents should watch for. Experts say, if you see these signs, ask your child if they are okay.

“Parents need to be asking those questions directly to their kids,” said Jessica Jaramillo, licensed clinical social worker and owner of Southland Child, Adult & Family Counseling. “It has been a debunked concern that asking about suicide is actually going to make someone suicidal. That is false, but it is essentially letting that person know ‘I hear you. I see you. I’m concerned about you. I’m worried about you. What can I do to help you and support you?’ and validate them and nurture them.”

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