A Voice of Hope: Talking about teen suicide

Posted at 10:41 AM, Nov 21, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-21 23:46:39-05

New data released by the Centers for Disease Control is prompting parents to talk with their kids about teen suicide.  The most recently-released numbers showed for the first time ever more middle school students are dying of suicide than car crashes.

In 2014, 425 young people between the ages of 10-14 in the United States took their own lives compared to 384 who died in car accidents.  Unintentional Injury (which includes car accidents) is still the leading cause of death for kids in that age group, and suicide is second. The statistics also show about eight percent of all kids will make a suicide attempt at some point in their lives. 

Experts say technology plays a large role in the numbers. 

"If you've done something silly or something that you regret, or just made a mistake, where before a few people would know about and it would eventually go away, the whole school can know about that in 30 seconds.  And electronically it never goes away," explained Dr. Michael Cummings, Vice Chair of Psychiatry at the University at Buffalo. 

Cummings stresses the importance of parents sitting down to talk with their kids about these difficult issues.

"Open, honest, frank discussions.  You will not make your child suicidal by saying the word suicide," he explained.

One Western New York teen is sharing her story as a way to help other kids who might be feeling the same way.  Natalia is 17 now, but she was only 14-years-old when she attempted to take her life. 

"I didn't know how to talk about it.  I didn't know what words to use.  I was overwhelmed and confused and I felt alone even though I wasn't," she said.

Natalia was hospitalized a number of times, and is now on the road to recovery.  She works with the "Just Tell One" organization to encourage other students to talk to someone when they're feeling upset or depressed.

"I knew I couldn't stop them from feeling that, I didn't want them to feel alone," she said about choosing to speak to other teens.

"If she can save one kid.  One adult, one family from this suffering the campaign is excellent.  It's a success just for that," said her father Sergio.

You can see Natalia's entire story tonight on 7 Eyewitness News at 11.

If you'd like to see the statistics from the CDC, click here.

To learn more about the Just Tell One organization, click here.