Editorial: Youth suicide is now an epidemic. Denial kills.

By Patric Hedlund, Editor

We have all had loved ones, neighbors, and perhaps we ourselves, who have received tough news about our health and have had to grapple with a diagnosis. Cancer is a hard diagnosis to hear. But we know it is a ticking clock. We and our family absorb the shock, then turn to working toward fighting back to reclaim our health. We all know that denial is deadly.

Mental health is a medical issue too. Depression is a tough diagnosis for a family to hear. We rationalize away behaviors that are disturbing, but may soon pass…until the next time.

“He’ll grow out of it,” we tell ourselves. But mental illness and depression are also ticking clocks.

Feelings of hopelessness and thoughts of suicide are reported by about a third of young people in America today, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The growing frequency of cyberbullying is considered by many observers to be linked to the increase in such reports. In September 2010, two years ago this month, our high school was challenged by cyberbullying that included a death threat and repeated suicide threats. The administration did not shine in its response then. It was in denial. Today that is changing. The urgency of youth suicide is now better understood.

Suicide is the second highest cause of death among college students in this country. Suicide is the third highest cause of death for all young people between ages 10 and 24, the CDC reports. Suicide is an epidemic among youth. It doesn’t have to be. Treatment is available. It takes courage to reach out for help. But denial and inaction kill.

Over the next few weeks we will be running a series of reports about the epidemic of youth suicide. We are all part of the solution.

This is part of the September 21, 2012 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.

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