Many reports have come out this past year about Teens and their Mental Health. Unfortunately this is not a new problem, however there has been a significant rise in the number of instances. “Suicide rates have doubled, calls to Help Hotlines have dramatically increased. Teens, forced into isolation, have taken a step back in being in a social environment. For some this is a welcome state in their mind, however it has magnified their social detriment…we are at a disadvantage when we try to communicate over a text or email, even a phone call.” We are missing large parts of communication such as tone of voice, eye contact, body language and touch. Miscommunication happens more frequently and it is difficult to resolve conflict in a healthy manner.
One important thing to realize is that talking works! It is true yet it is hard to explain; we were made for relationships and fellowship. God loves us and tells us to share our burdens with each other. He knows we need relationships with others and He gives us the Holy Spirit to comfort us. We are also told that Jesus is our Friend and He intercedes for us. Romans 8:34 states: “Christ Jesus is the One who died, but even more, has been raised; He also is at the right hand of God and intercedes for us.” Paul, the writer of Romans, goes on to say “Who can separate us from the love of Christ? Can affliction or anguish or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?.. No, in all these things we are more than victorious through Him who loved us.”
How can we as leaders, or parents, identify and increase effective communication and positive mental health in Teens? Recognizing warning signs, such as those given to us by the National Institute of Health (NIH), is beneficial. Some warning signs may help you determine if a loved one is at risk for suicide, especially if the behavior is new, has increased, or seems related to a painful event, loss, or change. If you or someone you know exhibits any of these, seek help by calling the Lifeline. (suicidepreventionlifeline.org) 800-273-8255
· Talking about wanting to die or to kill themselves;
· Looking for a way to kill themselves, like searching online or buying a gun
· Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
· Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
· Talking about being a burden to others
· Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
· Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly
· Sleeping too little or too much
· Withdrawing or isolating themselves
· Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
· Extreme mood swings
Listed below are Hotline numbers to have on hand for situations that may arise. It is important to refer if warning signs are indicated and to take seriously threats of suicide or other methods of self-harm.
¨ National Runaway Safeline 800-786-2929
¨ Rape & Sexual Assault 800-656-4673
¨ National Sex Traffiking Hotline 888-3737-888
¨ Child Abuse Hotline 800-422-4453
¨ Mental Health Support 800-985-5990 or TEXT TalkWithUs to 66746
¨ Crisis Text Line 741-741 TEXT Listen
Suicide Prevention Hotline 800-273-8255 or 911 911911
In 2018, there were 48,344 recorded suicides, up from 42,773 in 2014, according to the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). On average, adjusted for age, the annual U.S. suicide rate increased 24% between 1999 and 2014, from 10.5 to 13.0 suicides per 100,000 people, the highest rate recorded in 28 years.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death for young people between 10 to 24. Sometimes your struggle can be underestimated because of your age. But we hear you, and help is available. Any time that a kid makes a statement to the effect of, 'I don't think that people care if I die,' or 'I think people would be better off if I weren't around,' you've got to take it seriously," said Singer, an associate professor in the School of Social Work at Loyola University Chicago. He also said, if a young person withdraws from usual activities or is bullied on social media, it shouldn't be ignored. Singer added that what this new report doesn't reflect is a very large increase in suicidal thoughts among youth this year, largely due to the coronavirus pandemic and a souring economy. "But it is also important to know that there's not a direct relationship between an increase in suicidal thoughts and a corresponding increase in suicide deaths," he said.
The important part is relationship. Take the time to have a relationship with your teen in your home, in your church in your extended family or in your neighborhood. Each one struggles to know they are loved and accepted. Remind them of God’s deep love and show them they are accepted by listening to them without condemning them. Be aware of concerning areas and proceed gently when needed to guide them towards help from a trusted adult, beginning with their parent or Caregiver. When appropriate show them truths from God’s word and when appropriate give them the available hotline numbers. Pray for wisdom and discernment; shine the light of Jesus.