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Mental health agencies calling attention to the uptick in suicides among teens

teen suicide
Posted at 6:00 AM, May 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-19 16:03:02-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — The pandemic has taken a toll on our mental health, and young people are no different.
According to the CDC, suicide is one of the leading causes of death among teens, and now local officials are calling attention to a very troubling trend.

News5 spoke with several officials in the mental health care field. They say sixteen young people died by suicide this past year, in El Paso County, an uptick from the year before. The county also saw an increase in veteran suicides as well. The same trend is showing up in Teller and Park Counties.

Envida is a non-profit ride service that helps provide transportation for people who are in crisis. on Average they've given about 300 to 400 rides a month. The agency says that number increased as soon as the pandemic hit.

"What we've seen in the last six months has been a greater need for our rides in connecting people to behavioral health services," said Gail Nehls, Chief Executive Officer.

Diversus is a behavioral health center that often partners with Envida. Staff members say they're seeing more and more people being treated for anxiety and depression.

"There is still a stigma but we are always looking for ways to help break down barriers and make it easy for people to get help," explained Ryan Smith, Vice President of the Access Center and Operations at Diversus.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and one agency that provides resources is the National Alliance on Mental Illness in Colorado. This agency provides educational support groups and programs.

"There is a temptation to tell people to snap out of it, but depression is different," said Kirk Woundy, the Associate Executive Director of the agency.

Woundy says the best way to tackle stigma, is to talk about the issue, and a lot more parents need to be checking in on their teen's mental health. Be sure to also monitor your teen's social media use, along with any changes in their moods. Encourage them to stay active, and remind them the pandemic will pass.

For help on how to start the conversation with your teen, click here.

For more information on suicide prevention, click here.