I was listening to a podcast yesterday while driving to and from the post office with my Frango client gifts. I didn’t hear all of it, but what I did hear was disturbing. Our youth are in a mental health crisis. One in five contemplate suicide. Suicide is skyrocketing. Mental health has reached a crisis level and there is a shortage of mental health care professionals.
The podcast was quoting from a recent Washington Post article. (I’m not a subscriber so I looked for other free resources online.)
New research shows the number of teens with suicidal thoughts were already rapidly growing before the pandemic’s mental health impact.
The number of 5 to 19-year-olds who were hospitalized with suicidal thoughts jumped almost 60% between fall 2019 to fall 2020.
“We need to really start thinking about the root of it all and looking at how we can prevent and intervene a lot sooner for our youth,” said Dr. Brewer.
When I was growing up, I didn’t hear much about mental health or suicidal thoughts in youth. I’m sure it was happening, but not talked about. But I’m also sure it wasn’t at crisis proportions that it is today.
What do you believe the cause is? What has changed from decades ago to today that affects mental health? Was it isolation due to COVID? Is it isolation due to smart phones? Is it bullying online? What other causes? Please discuss.
Saturday marks the first birthday that my daughter’s college teammate isn’t alive to celebrate. He committed suicide in December 2021. His birthday was July 2. He would have turned 25.
My heart hurts for all those who lost this amazing young man, including my daughter. I cannot imagine how his mom is able to get through this “holiday weekend.” He was especially close to his sister and she posted a loving story with photos on Instagram that I read and burst into tears.
We became close to the family at swim meets while our kids were in high school. We often sat with them at college dual meets and the PAC 12 championships.
I think many people left behind carry guilt. “If only I would have called.” “If only I could have let him know how much he meant to me.”
From the UCLA Health website:
Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among people age 15 to 24 in the U.S. Nearly 20% of high school students report serious thoughts of suicide and 9% have made an attempt to take their lives, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
Recent weeks have brought heartbreaking examples of this trend, including the March 1 death of Stanford soccer captain Katie Meyer, 22; and Ohio State football player Harry Miller’s revelations that he attempted suicide, shared his struggles with his coach and got help. Miller announced his medical retirement from football on March 10 in a Twitter post that’s been shared more than 10,000 times.
“This is not an issue reserved for the far and away,” wrote Miller. “It is in our homes. It is in our conversations. It is in the people we love.”
I’m grateful for the support my daughter is getting on the loss of her friend and teammate. Her distance coach is calling and checking up on her. She was the one who called my daughter to break the news. Then, she got a call from the head coach. He told her that he was there for her if she ever needs to reach out and that he loved her.
I’m grateful for my son, his girlfriend and her family for living so close and being there for her. I also am thankful for Waffles and his unconditional love and affection to my daughter.
I’ve been worried about my daughter because she just moved into an apartment for the first time in her life living alone. She’s extremely sad and my calls with her haven’t helped. Like I said earlier this week in a post, “I don’t know to say.”
Everybody grieves in their own way. My husband said he compartmentalizes everything and brings it out a little bit at a time when he can face it. I’m the opposite and want to dwell and talk and work through the process immediately. I don’t think any way is right or wrong. But we need to have connection with other people for love and support.
I feel helpless that I can’t give my daughter hope. She told me that everything is miserable and she has no hope that anything will ever change. I know she’s hurting and I pray that after she attends her friend’s funeral in a few days that she will find some comfort among his family and friends who love him.
I can’t wait to see her next week to tell her in person that I love her and give her a big hug.
How can you give someone hope? Is there anything more painful to a parent than seeing their children hurting?
Not to get too morbid, but the past two weeks have been hellish. I feel my last week’s posts have focused on death. But it’s what is happening in our lives. I feel raw from the sadness of losing our friend Mark, and then I got a phone call late Friday night from a fellow swim mom. It’s not like her to call me. We haven’t talked much since our daughters graduated college with our swim parenting days behind us.
She started the call by saying, “I have something awful to tell you, but it’s not about Kat or Megan.” Kat and Megan are our daughters who swam together at the University of Utah. It was about one of their former teammates. He committed suicide.
I was getting texts and calls. Everyone was worried about my daughter and how she’d take the news. She was at work, and I asked everyone to talk to her once she got off work. In the end, her coach from Utah made the call and they cried together. Then my daughter went to her brother’s house and sat with his girlfriend. I’m so thankful and grateful to have them so close.
I am devastated for the loss of this young man of 24. He was the type of person everybody wanted to be around. He was tall, good looking, smart, funny. He had a hearty laugh that was contagious. He was so polite and well-mannered that when we went out to dinner with him, he’d stand when I got up to use the bathroom.
I’ve heard from swim moms that his teammates are devastated. Nobody had a clue that life was less than perfect for him. Nobody knew that he was suffering. There weren’t any signs.
I cannot imagine how his family is doing. I enjoyed his parents so much and often sat with them at swim meets beginning in high school through college. His older sister is one of my daughter’s best friends and the three of them spent tons of time together.
I asked my husband, “How much pain are we able to take?”
This makes me worry about the mental health of our youth more than ever. I want to know if social media has made depression and anxiety worse? There’s a difference of three years between my son and daughter. Social media was only MySpace when my son was in middle school and early high school. By the time my daughter was that age, social media was so much more prevalent and popular. Is this a result of growing up on screens?
I had this conversation with my daughter before this tragedy occurred. We were talking about anxiety and depression. She thinks that people her age and younger are much more open to getting treatment. And that they are more open to talking about mental illness. She doesn’t think social media is causing more young people to have depression or anxiety. She thinks the numbers are going up because more kids are getting treatment.
I tend to think it may be a combination of many factors, social media included, and her generation being more open to talk about mental health. I think I’m searching for a reason. Something to blame for the loss of this young man’s life.
What is your opinion? Do you think mental illness in teens and early 20-year-olds is increasing? Or are they more open to discussing it? What do you see as the causes?