Videos are new state tactic against teen suicides

The state has produced powerful new videos in an effort to help combat teenage suicide.

The Public Service Announcements, released by the GBI’s Child Fatality Review Panel, feature teens talking about depression and hopelessness – and ways to overcome them.

Over the past three years, 144 children/teenagers committed suicide in Georgia. Already this year, four more suicides have occurred, including that of a 9-year-old.

Suicide is the second-leading cause of death for people ages 10-14 in Georgia and the third-leading cause of death for people ages 15-24, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Gov. Nathan Deal and other state leaders gathered at the state Capitol last week to raise awareness of teen suicide and publicize the video effort to reach kids who are in crisis.

“This is a subject that, even though it is difficult, deserves to be talked about,’’ Deal said Thursday.

“Hopefully young people who are suffering from depression . . . will listen and hopefully come forward and get help,” he said. “We have great families, great young people, and we want to prevent suicides of these valuable young people.”

(Here’s a link to the videos.)

It is generally estimated that there are 25 attempts for each death by suicide.

Deal proposed $23 million in new funding for children’s mental health services, including money for suicide prevention,  in the upcoming fiscal 2019 budget.

Trebor Randle, a special agent with the GBI’s Child Fatality Review Panel, told WABE that prevention is the major key to reducing the suicide rate among kids and teens.

“Our kids are in crisis and they need to know that we hear them, we’re listening,” Randle said. “More importantly, the parents and educators need to understand the signs of a child who may be in crisis.”

Randle said some of those signs are kids withdrawing from family and social events. She said changes in behavior or appearance can also be warning signs.

“We always have to use our free services,” Randle said, according to WABE. “Social media, Twitter and Facebook. It is very difficult to get, for example, a movie theater to run these ads because it costs money. We don’t have enough funding.”

If you or anyone you know is dealing with suicidal thoughts,  call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or the Georgia Crisis and Access Line at 1-800-715-4225