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Teen Suicide: How To Recognize Kids At Risk

The coverage about Michael Blasil’s suicide raises important issues about how to really help depressed teens…and where to look for resources in our own communities.

In many ways, the coverage about the death of Marie Osmond’s son was excellent. The experts on all the news shows were spot on in discussing teen depression and suicide and all the news stations have posted important information for families on their sites. However, what was missing was the reality of how challenging it is to get care. All the experts  I heard this morning made comments such as “if your child is depressed for 2 weeks or more, you need to get that child into treatment because treatment does work in over 90% of the time.”

So, true…if you can find a treater and afford it! The very, very frustrating reality is that child psychiatry in most communities is  hard to find. If a community has a child psychiatrist, there is often a multi-month wait which does not help a child in true crisis. And, this is the true wack to the system, most child psychiatrists have no gone fee for service only…no insurance.  To add insult to injury, as if this isn’t bad enough, because most psychiatric services at hospitals have been dramatically scaled back, finding an inpatient bed for a truly suicidal child or teen can take days to weeks. These kids often have to be boarded in the ER or kept as an inpatient in a hospital until a psychiatric bed is found which is not treatment at all, ads to the stress of the child and family, and ads to the burden of the health care system.

Families have little choice but to bring a child or teen who is truly depressed, self-injurious and/or suicidal to the ER but the system is just not set up to easily get that child help right away. That is the reality for the kids who need the help the most.

What parents have to do is not let a child who is truly at risk go home. That is the first step. You have to be your child’s advocate. If your child is truly at risk and you feel your child will harm himself, herself or others, draw the line. That is one way to get help.

The other way to get help is to be a cyber sleuth and to find resources in your area that you may not know exist. I did a hunt today to try and gather a list for you.  Having numbers and websites readily available is one of the best ways to be prepared so if a crisis hits, we know who we’re going to call. We know the system is broken but that doesn’t mean we have to let the system break us!

Here are the resources that I’ve dug up. If you have other resources you know about, let me know and we can keep a long running list in this space for all the families who need to get their kids and teens help for teen depression and suicidality:

The Depressed Child: General Information (American Academy of Child Psychiatry)

Depression Support and Resources (Aboutourkids.org)

Mental Service Locator United States (SAMHSA)

Depression Hurts: Information and Resources  (SAMHSA)

Kid Peace: private charity dedicated to help families in need of getting help for their kids

*This blog post was originally published at Dr. Gwenn Is In*


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One Response to “Teen Suicide: How To Recognize Kids At Risk”

  1. stacey zingoni says:

    I have been going through this for the past 3 years. I’m a RN with healthcare coverage but no inpatient coverage. My daughter is getting worse and I recently agreed for her to be submitted to inpatient when she asked for help. The next day I got a call from the facility that my insurance doesn’t pay and it will be 250,00 per day. I’m a single Mom and this is a nightmare. I am lost as to what to do to find help for her. I have asked everyone, therapists, school, pediatrician, the facility and called my insurance company to no avail. This is a horrible atrosity.

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