Health professionals help troubled adolescents
DANVILLE, MONTOUR COUNTY (WBRE / WYOU) – This month is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and a local health expert is helping to raise awareness of an underdiagnosed disease that can lead to suicide in adolescents.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people aged 15 to 24. But even much younger children fall victim to it, which a certified psychiatrist attributes in large part to undiagnosed mental illness.
Being a child or a teenager, especially in the 21st century, is not easy. It is even more difficult for young people struggling with a major mental health disorder like depression.
“Depression and suicidal thoughts seem to increase more throughout the pandemic,” said Geisinger child and adolescent psychiatry specialist Dr Angelica Kloos.
But Dr Kloos says there aren’t enough of us paying attention. What is behind this disconnection?
“We’re all in our own rooms and we’re on our computers and phones and we don’t interact the same way we used to and I think it’s harder for parents to really tell when there’s a problem.” said Dr Kloos.
Family, schools and the community in general have a significant impact on children and their mental well-being. Social networks too. Researchers at Facebook, which owns Instagram, accuse the photo-sharing app of making one in three teenage girls feel bad about their bodies.
Dr Kloos says that a teenager who spends too much time online doesn’t necessarily mean he’s depressed, but sometimes it does.
“Discovering that difference, I think, really comes down to understanding your child, getting to know your child and letting them know that you are there for them and it’s not always easy,” said Dr Kloos.
Dr. Kloos urges children to have their depression or other mental health problem recognized, diagnosed and appropriately treated.
“One of the biggest problems we have as a society and especially really in this area is that it can take a while to access health services and I think the pandemic has only done so make it worse, ”explained Dr Kloos.
That’s why she believes coordinated care and integrated access involving psychologists, social workers and pediatricians, which Geisinger does, are essential to help prevent a preventable tragedy.
“Start the process immediately instead of waiting for a phone call, an email, things like that,” Dr. Kloos said.
Dr Kloos emphasizes that we can all help prevent suicide. Eyewitness News has resources listed for anyone in difficulty and for if you know someone who is in difficulty.