Straight Talk: Suicidal Thoughts in Youth

HEALTH

Honolulu (KHON2) – A devastating side effect of COVID-19 and social isolation is a rise in depression and suicidal thoughts in youth so we asked Rhesa and Edwina of Ho’oko LLC for some Straight Talk.

“As Providers, we are seeing an increase in depression and anxiety in people in general, but particularly in adolescents. This comes with an increase in suicidality and ideations (or thinking about suicide),” explains President/Co-Founder Rhesa Kaulia. “This seems to be due to the uncertainty of our world and their world being turned upside down, worrying about contracting COVID-19, the prolonged closure of facilities, including schools, that adolescents normally frequent, not being able to participate in healthy extracurricular activities, and the inability to socialize in ways that they normally would.  These massive changes have caused a hopelessness in our young people, and many of them are having trouble navigating it.”

Vice-President/Co-Founder Edwina Reyes adds statistics, saying “In a study conducted by The National Center for Health Statistics in 2016, suicide was the leading cause of death in young people ages 10 – 24 in Hawai’i.  In 2018, The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention reported that suicide is the second leading cause of death in young people in Hawai’i ages 18 – 34.  According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), in a recent survey during COVID-19, young people aes 18 – 24 had “seriously considered” suicide in the past 30 days.”

Rhesa and Edwina point to these warning signs: A combination of changes in appetite, sleep and friends.  Isolating, negative talk and hopelessness with respect to the future.  Changes in mood, social behavior (not texting or video chatting with friends anymore), lack of interest in things they were once interested in, a recent break-up with a boy or girlfriend, problems with memory or focus (where there didn’t used to be any), even hearing talk about what it would be like not to be here, or about death or dying.

If you notice these symptoms, Hooko’s Co-Founders stress that you respond appropriately “First and foremost, remain calm.  Don’t scold or question or badger.  Offer to listen and help.  Safety-proof your home (remove access to pills or sharp items, ensure firearms if they are present are stored & locked up), contact professionals like the child’s pediatrician or a Therapist, or someone they can talk to if they won’t talk with you. Pay attention to further changes and address them as you see them. Trust your gut to notice these things.”

Also they recommend that you ensure that your child has a balanced life – extra-curricular activities, social interaction, focused on school and other areas of interest. Do things as a family, invite their friends to participate with your family, encouraged healthy interactions and activities.  And above all, talk with your children.  Know their intimate world & who & what they associate with.

Contact a professional to discuss the suicidal ideations of your teen or another younger person you know.    

Parents and concerned parties can also use these resources:

  • The State of Hawaiʻi Crisis Line: (808) 832-3100 or toll free at 1-800-753-6879
  • National Crisis Text Lin: Text “ALOHA” to 741741
  • National Suicide Hotline: 1-800-784-2433 or 1-800-SUICIDE
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:  1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • In case of an emergency, call 911

Ho’oko Counseling Center provides counseling services that are covered by most major health insurances.  If you have questions or would like to schedule an appointment, contact 808-375-7712 or visit www.hookollc.com.

Website: www.hookollc.com

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