Youth suicide rates have reached a 20-year high.
As the Covid19 Pandemic continues to push communities to the breaking point,there are several groups that have not been specifically noted as vulnerable. One of these groups is our teen community. While the virus may not be ravaging this group at the same rate as other groups, our teens are facing other serious issues that demand the attention of our local child advocates. Even before the pandemic, suicide has been the second leading cause of death in teens ages 15 to 19 worldwide, across all socio-economic groups. The U.S. World News Report, in an article dated June 18, 2019, stated that youth suicide rates have reached a 20-year high. While we may not be able to reach teens in other places, there is a lot we can do locally to reach out to our local youth.
The Prescott Valley Police Department recognizes the vulnerability of our local teens. Because the pre-frontal cortex of the brain in adolescents, the part that deals with impulse control and being able to fully understand consequences of actions, doesn’t develop until these teens are in their twenties, this age group may struggle with being able to see that our current situation is not permanent. Many of these kids come from less than ideal family situations, even before the quarantine. Domestic violence, neglect, social isolation, increased online activity and lack of adult supervision during this lockdown has only made their situations worse. There are no child advocates available to see the warning signs. Depression, drug and alcohol use, and other maladaptive behaviors go unnoticed.
The Prescott Valley Police Department would like to encourage all parents, grandparents, guardians, neighbors and friends to reach out to the teens in your sphere of influence and just check in with them. That small and seemingly unimportant interaction could be the defining moment in adverting a tragedy. If needed, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-248-TEEN (8255). We want all our citizens, young and old, to see a brighter tomorrow. We will get through this crisis together.
Prescott Valley Police Department can be contacted at (928) 772-9267 for non-emergencies, 911 for emergencies.