YORK COUNTY, S.C. (CN2 NEWS) It’s a growing and frightening trend and we see it here at home. According to the National Institute of Mental Health suicide is the leading cause of death in the United States.
In recent months here in the Tri-County there have been a number of suicides among teens and young adults. Now, area leaders are saying it’s time to stop the sigma and start conversations.
As mental health and suicide cases continue to rise, NAMI Piedmont Tri-County leaders say it’s time to be aware of the signs.
NAMI Piedmont Tri-County Executive Director, Betsey O’Brien says, “17.7% of high school students have contemplated suicide. So, parents and teachers really need to be concerned about approaching kids, seeing how they’re doing, asking questions –– and the most important question when they see signs and symptoms that are a little bit concerning, are you thinking about hurting yourself? Are you thinking about ending your life?”
24-year-old Kaitlyn Buchko has continued learning about her mental health from a young age. Diagnosed with rapid cycling bi-polar disorder, she says is an ongoing journey. But now she spends time speaking to teens and young adults hoping they’ll realize they are not alone.
“I mean everybody’s different everyone’s going to experience everything like this, especially mental health issues, they’re going to feel it differently. But I think understanding that it’s okay to talk about it and seeing somebody talk about it, makes it less than intimidating even if you’re just opening up to one person.”
Reports show that suicide is the second leading cause of death for those ages 15 to 24 but now this high school coach is looking to start a program that will get teens the help they need.
Mrs. South Carolina Strawberry Queen and High School Head Cheer Coach, Meagan Bivins, saying, “We had to get creative with team bonding exercises so we did a circle talk kind of situation and I realized going through that, how much my own athletes were struggling and how much they needed an outlet to be able to communicate.”
A part of her Strawberry Festival Pageant platform, Meagan Bivins wants teens to feel heard. 15-year-old high school sophomore and athlete, Hannah Sims, says teens are often stereotyped hearing they’re always glued to their phones. She says teen’s mental health can be impacted by school, personal lives and especially social media.
“You can see someone totally happy on social media but then there’s that side of them that no one sees — that like they’re beating themselves up about everything and it’s like oh they post this perfect picture but at the same time they hate that picture, but like everyone else loves it,” says Sims.
Bivins says anyone can provide a listening ear.
“I think it’s I think it’s important that as a community we realize that these young adults need that and they want that and so when someone comes to have a conversation with you, you don’t have to have the answers they just want you to be able to listen to them,” says Bivins.
In the video above, CN2’s Rachel Richardson is speaking about the importance of discussing mental health.