UK HealthCare sees increase in suicidal teenagers seeking care
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - A recent study found that about 15% of Kentucky high school students have seriously considered suicide within a 12-month period.
Local health leaders and mental health counselors are encouraging parents and students to speak up about concerns, to potentially save a life.
It’s a tough time to be a kid. However, doctors and counselors say there is hope on the horizon.
Dr. Lindsay Ragsdale is the Chief Medical Officer for Kentucky Children’s Hospital. She’s in charge of operations and says they are seeing an influx of youth coming into the emergency department experiencing a mental health crisis, due to gaps in outpatient resources.
“One is communication. I think we have to start talking to children in adolescence about what they’re going through,” Dr. Ragsdale said. “To make it okay, to say I’m not okay.”
The Kentucky Department of Education says suicide is the second leading cause of death for youth and young adults in the state.
Shakira Goldsmith-Mason works for the Fayette County School District as a mental health specialist. She says the pressures were always there on the system well before COVID-19 came into the mix, but the demand for services continues to grow.
“I think there was a big push before the pandemic. I think the needs have increased since the pandemic,” Goldsmith-Mason said. “We see a lot of students who are showing up with those systems of anxiety, who had never shown that before. They don’t know exactly what it is, but we tend to know what it is immediately.”
School employees who work with 6th-12th graders are required to have one hour of professional training each year to review suicide prevention. It’s a lesson, that could save a life. If their mental health is not taken care of adequately, then they can’t move forward with focusing on school, planning their futures, etc.
Copyright 2022 WKYT. All rights reserved.