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Advocates emphasize importance of addressing youth suicide directly

Posted at 8:02 PM, Dec 12, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-12 20:08:02-05

INDIANAPOLIS — Erin Maynard remembers the moment her world almost shattered.

"My son has suffered from anxiety and depression for a few years. He was diagnosed when he was nine," she said.

The diagnosis was tough, but it wasn't until she was faced with the thought of losing her son that her world flipped upside down.

"Last summer, he tried to commit suicide," Maynard said.

Her son is a freshman in high school now, and Maynard works with the Indiana Center for Prevention of Youth Abuse and Suicide where she makes sure other families aren't caught off guard as she was.

"We know that one-in-five high school students in the State of Indiana in the last year has considered suicide," Maynard said.

Even more alarming than that, the Centers for Disease Control reports that the suicide rate in children aged 10-14 has nearly tripled in the past 10 years.

A decade ago, social media wasn't as popular. Young people could escape constant contact, but now that isn't the case with Facebook and smart phones everywhere.

"Bullying is so prevalent and cyberbullying is prevalent," Indiana Center for Prevention of Youth Abuse and Suicide. program director Maggie Owens said.

Owens said young people don't always realize the finality of death due to their age and though the topic of suicide used to be taboo, the best approach is head-on.

"A lot of parents think if they bring up the topic of suicide that they are somehow introducing an idea to a child," Owens said. "That is not the case."

Both Maynard and Owens said removing the stigma plays a role, but talking with children and being direct makes all the difference.

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