Sunday , March 11, 2018 - 12:00 AM
In the United States, a mental health crisis has developed throughout the teenage population.
Seventy percent of teens in this generation will have a depressive episode before the age of 18, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Mental illness is a real and desperate issue that needs to be addressed now, before it is allowed to get worse.
The National Institute of Mental Health reports that at any given time, at least five percent of teens in the U.S. suffer from major depression, with 10 to 15 percent showing symptoms for severe depression.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found in a 2015 survey that 30 percent of teens felt sad and hopeless with nine percent of teens reported having attempted suicide at least once.
For many people, researchers included, the question is why depression and suicide rates are rising so quickly.
“I think social media has a huge part in the rising depression (rate) because teens are comparing themselves to the best parts of others’ lives,” said Sarah Child, a senior at Syracuse High School. “They feel they’re not good enough. I also think that social media is also is a huge source for online bullying so kids don't ever get a break that are being bullied, and they feel suicide is the only way to stop it.”
The rise in depression and suicide among young people is partly attributable to sources and pressures that surround a teen in 2018. With all that teens are exposed to now, people have to be there to help each one of them.
Mackenzie Stephens, a junior at Roy High, added, “I think the rates (of depression and suicide) are rising because people these days are selfish and senseless to other people’s well-being and feelings. I think bullying has a lot to do with it.”
How can things be improved?
One way, Child said, is “if we stop comparing ourselves to others, start being more genuine online so people see that others have bad days just like them.”
“I also think that if we communicate more face to face instead of online, and just be kind to everyone we pass, that it would help people (with depression),” she said.
This advice is the same advice that the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline has for teens and those around them. Listening to others, being there for them and genuinely caring for them are ways to help those who are depressed, along with helping kids get the support they need through a lifeline, a counselor, a family member or other types of resources.
If you or someone you know is depressed or thinking of suicide, call the lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
Teachers and parents especially need to make sure they understand how to communicate when they are faced with teen depression or suicide so they can be prepared.
Acting together can stop this epidemic.
Jennifer Greenlee is a senior at Syracuse High School where she is editor of the school newspaper. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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