10Apr

More children and teens are having suicidal thoughts, but experts can’t pinpoint why – National

by BBG Hub


WARNING: This article contains explicit information related to suicide and mental health that may not be suitable for all audience members. Discretion is advised.

A lot more children and teens are going to the hospital with suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts, a new study suggests.

Published in JAMA Pediatrics earlier this week, researchers found these rates had doubled between 2007 and 2015.

Speaking with CNN, Dr. Brett Burstein, lead study author and a pediatric emergency room physician at Montreal Children’s Hospital of McGill University Health Centre, said the numbers were “alarming.”

READ MORE: Immigrant, refugee youth end up in ER for mental health care more than others — study

“It also represents a larger percentage of all pediatric emergency department visits. Where suicidal behaviour among the pediatric population was just two per cent of all visits, that’s now up to 3.5 per cent,” he said.

Researchers used data from the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey in the U.S., and found the average age children were evaluated at was 13. Additionally, 43 per cent of hospital visits were from children between the ages of five and 11.

Mara Grunau, executive director at the Centre for Suicide Prevention (CSP), told Global News it’s hard to pinpoint if the exact same trends are happening in Canada.

“The answer we would like to say is we can just look at the numbers and just read them, but it’s still much more complicated than that,” she said. “The biggest issue in suicide period is stigma. But when it comes to specific groups — and children would top the list — the stigma is significant.”

She added numbers suggest there are more children presenting with suicidal thoughts, but it could be children are just more aware of it.

What’s really changed? Is it our perspective or is that behaviour? We don’t know.”

Research isn’t always accurate

For decades, mental health advocates have said children have been dying by suicide.

“We published a handbook almost a decade ago that was the first of its kind, and people refused to engage with [it],” she continued. “They said, ‘no, children do not understand the permanency of death and therefore could not understand suicide,’” adding a common narrative was that if children did die, it was always unintentional.

CSP noted there is a low occurrence of suicide among children, but some research suggests suicide is the fourth leading cause of death among children between the ages of 10 and 14. In Canada in 2009, the site added, there were 25 recorded suicidal deaths of children in the same age group.

But Grunau added stats are not always accurate, either, nor do they make up the full picture.

READ MORE: Mom lets children skip school to take a ‘mental-health day’ — is this good parenting?

“We know from teachers, from anecdotal reports from private counsellors and parents that they’ve had kids at risk of suicide who show up in emergency rooms and have been dismissed or discharged,” she said.  “It never would have been recorded as suicidal behaviour.”

She said the centre is working with educators, social workers or anyone else who works with children to figure out ways to make these conversations less difficult.

I can appreciate where the stigma comes from. It’s difficult. I mean, to hear anybody in such despair that they are considering suicide is very difficult, let alone a child,” she continued.

“It is difficult to reconcile, but we can’t move forward with the child and we’re not going to acknowledge what is actually going on.”

Why are these rates increasing?

Dr. Gene Beresin, executive director of The Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds at Massachusetts General Hospital, who was not part of the original study, told CNN stress could be a reason rates are going up. 

“Kids are feeling more pressure to achieve, more pressure in school, and are more worried about making a living than in previous years,” he told the site, adding parents and caregivers are also more stressed in general.

READ MORE: From suicide tips on YouTube to the Momo challenge hoax, parents have more to worry about online

“I think in a lot of the stress research, what we’ve seen is what is healthy stress and what’s unhealthy stress,” Grunau said. “If there’s not enough stress, then we don’t develop resilience… we don’t want no stress, but we want a healthy amount so that we’re challenged but not overwhelmed.”

In previous generations, people were more focused on “soldiering on” to avoid being called “weak,” she added, but now people are more likely to speak up.

I think people are more willing to express the stress and the impact of it… but that’s just that’s just anecdotal.”

Speaking with children

Others have also linked the increase in cyberbullying to an increase in suicides. There have also been cases of suicidal language and discourse being hidden on platforms like YouTube.

But one thing Grunau stressed is talking about suicide won’t make children more suicidal.

Suicide is not a subjective behaviour,” she said. “Just talking about suicide does not incite the idea if [the child or teen] is not already at risk.”

Parents need to know how to have these conversations with their children, even difficult ones. And if children have questions, there are some ways to talk about suicide. Children will sometimes see something on social media or hear about a story through friends — and they will have questions.

You have to be persistent and calm about it in different ways to try and maintain that openness and trust, so that they know when things are really bad they’re willing to tell you,” she said. “When they do tell you something, hold it. Don’t jump in on it and don’t judge them, you don’t want to ruin that trusted relationship.”


READ MORE:
Staff stretched thin as report says half of UNB students in counselling deal with suicidal thoughts

You should also notice changes in behaviour and ask children about it.

“If you are concerned about your child or anybody, ask them directly,” she said. “‘Hey, I am worried about you,’ or ‘you’re not yourself these days.’”

“If they say ‘yes,’ our tendency is to jump in and say, ‘but you won’t really do it’ or ‘think of your family,’” she said. “Try not to say those things. Try to be empathetic [and] recognize that for them, this is a real option right now.”

Where to find help

If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, resources are available. In case of an emergency, please call 911 for immediate help.

The Canadian Association for Suicide PreventionDepression Hurts and Kids Help Phone 1-800-668-6868 all offer ways of getting help if you, or someone you know, may be suffering from mental health issues.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.




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10Apr

‘It is a huge responsibility’: Prince Harry and Oprah team up for new show on mental health – National

by BBG Hub

Meghan Markle may no longer be on TV, but her husband Prince Harry is heading to the small screen.

On Wednesday, the 34-year-old royal and Oprah Winfrey announced they are teaming up to produce a docuseries on mental health. The powerful pair are “partners, co-creators and executive producers” on the series, which will launch on Apple in 2020, palace officials said.

“I truly believe that good mental health — mental fitness — is the key to powerful leadership, productive communities and a purpose-driven self,” the Duke of Sussex said on his new Instagram account.

View this post on Instagram

We are excited to announce that The Duke of Sussex and Oprah Winfrey are partners, co-creators and executive producers on their forthcoming mental health series launching on Apple in 2020. The pair have been developing the series for several months and are looking forward to sharing such an important project on this global platform. The dynamic multi-part documentary series will focus on both mental illness and mental wellness, inspiring viewers to have an honest conversation about the challenges each of us faces, and how to equip ourselves with the tools to not simply survive, but to thrive. This commitment builds on The Duke of Sussex’s long-standing work on issues and initiatives regarding mental health, where he has candidly shared personal experience and advocated for those who silently suffer, empowering them to get the help and support they deserve. His Royal Highness has spent many years working with communities throughout the UK and young people across the Commonwealth to break the stigma surrounding mental illness and broaden the conversation of mental wellness to accelerate change for a more compassionate, connected and positive society. Quote from HRH: “I truly believe that good mental health – mental fitness – is the key to powerful leadership, productive communities and a purpose-driven self. It is a huge responsibility to get this right as we bring you the facts, the science and the awareness of a subject that is so relevant during these times. Our hope is that this series will be positive, enlightening and inclusive – sharing global stories of unparalleled human spirit fighting back from the darkest places, and the opportunity for us to understand ourselves and those around us better. I am incredibly proud to be working alongside Oprah on this vital series.”

A post shared by The Duke and Duchess of Sussex (@sussexroyal) on

“It is a huge responsibility to get this right as we bring you the facts, the science and the awareness of a subject that is so relevant during these times. Our hope is that this series will be positive, enlightening and inclusive, sharing global stories of unparalleled human spirit fighting back from the darkest places and the opportunity for us to understand ourselves and those around us better.”

The father-to-be added that he is “incredibly proud to be working alongside Oprah on this vital series.”

READ MORE: Royal baby name — The top choice is in, and it’ll sound familiar

Responding to the news shared on Instagram, Winfrey commented: “Delighted to be partnering with you. Hope we shed a lot of light. And change some lives!”

Prince Harry has been open about his mental health struggles in the past.

After the death of his mother Princess Diana in 1997, the Duke of Sussex said he dealt with great grief and sought counselling. He previously told the Daily Telegraph that he “shut down all his emotions” for nearly 20 years and had been “very close to a complete breakdown on numerous occasions.”

WATCH: Duke And Duchess of Sussex attend WE Day U.K.





Prince Harry has also worked with mental health charity Heads Together alongside Prince William and Kate Middleton. The royal has said it’s his mission to help end the stigma around mental illness.

The partnership with Prince Harry comes after Winfrey signed a multi-year deal with Apple in 2018 to create original programs for its streaming service.

READ MORE: ‘We’re in uncharted territory’: Royal expert shares everything she knows about baby Sussex

In March, Apple invited media to an event at the Steve Jobs Theater on its campus in Cupertino, Calif., where the company officially announced its new streaming service, called Apple TV Plus.

The event was studded with celebrities, including Winfrey, Steven Spielberg, Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon and Jason Momoa.

—With files from the Associated Press

[email protected]

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.




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