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A mental health crisis plagues Indiana children with many attempting suicide

One medical group declared children’s mental health a national emergency.

Dustin Grove

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Published: 5:39 AM EST February 24, 2022
Updated: 2:47 PM EST February 25, 2022

Health professionals across the country and here in Indiana are seeing what they call an alarming number of young people – as young as 5 years old – who are struggling with mental illness.

Even before the COVID-19 epidemic, suicide rates and attempted suicides among children and teens had been going up every year since 2007.

Then, the numbers soared in 2020. Emergency Rooms saw a 22% spike in potential suicides by kids between 12 and 17 years old compared to the year before.

“I think here we are definitely seeing a mental health crisis,” said Dr. Hillary Blake, a psychiatrist at Riley Hospital for Children. “I think a lot of it at the beginning was lockdown and removal from social situations, not being in school. But I think its just the continued stress of it.”

It was enough for the American Academy of Pediatrics to declare children’s mental health a national emergency in October 2021.

It launched a public campaign called “Sound the Alarm” to get people talking about suicide, an issue that’s often been difficult for people to talk about.

“I think we are so scared to talk about suicide when it comes to teens and children,” Blake said.

She believes we no longer have a choice.

“I think having honest conversations with your children and adolescents and asking how their mood is and if they’ve had any thoughts about wanting to kill themselves or harm themselves in any way — are very important conversations to have," she said.

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