CLEVELAND – September is Suicide Awareness Prevention Month. And according to a study released by the CDC, girls between the ages of 12 and 17 years old appeared to be most at risk during the pandemic.
In fact, data shows suspected suicide attempts during February and March of this year increased by 51% compared to the same period in 2019.
“There’s a lot of hormonal changes that happen and impact their brain, the brain maturation changes and you can see a lot of the girls starting to gain maturity early,” explained Tatiana Falcone, MD, child and adolescent psychiatrist for Cleveland Clinic Children’s. “So, we see a lot of attempts and I think that’s what you’re seeing.”
Dr. Falcone said suicide is preventable, which is why it’s so important for parents to notice early signs of depression.
For example, their child may have a sudden drop in grades, start sleeping more or acting withdrawn, become moody and irritable and talk about feeling hopeless or having nothing to live for.
Dr. Falcone said parents shouldn’t hesitate to talk to their children if they think something is wrong – having an open dialogue is important.
She also recommends monitoring their cellphone and social media use, especially since cyber bullying is such a big issues these days.
“When you start giving the privilege to your kid to use a cell phone, you should be teaching them good use of their cellphone, like what are the appropriate apps they should have, how long they should use the cell phone and what are some of the apps that are not good,” said Dr. Falcone.
She said if you suspect your child is at risk for suicide or their mood isn’t improving, you should talk to a medical professional.