SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — In South Dakota last year, more people took their own lives than ever before. Just shy of 200 people completed suicide. A growing number of them were kids. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for people ages 10 to 34.
“Think about that, that huge gap among our youngest, our brightest, our greatest potential, the second leading cause,” said Psychiatrist Dr. Mathew Stanley.
Psychiatrist Dr. Mathew Stanley says in adults, men are more likely to take their own lives. Among teenagers, it is girls.
“And they are increasing at a very rapid rate. There’s been speculation as to why this is social media perhaps, the pandemic certainly contributed. A lot of the support systems and socialization was kind of yanked away from our young kids,” said Stanley.
Dr. Stanley says a teenage brain is not fully developed. As adults, it’s easy to forget how heightened emotions are at that age.
“How dramatic changes feel in life and how things from our older perspective seem to be temporary, seems like can’t be overcome you know I’ve made a mistake it’s going to be with me for the rest of my life none of which is true. But it is that impulsive that rapid action, that intense emotion that I think makes this age group the most concerning,” said Stanley.
Wendy Mamer knows the guilt, anger, and whirlwind of emotions that come with losing someone to suicide.
“Almost five years ago, on December 27th, 2017 lost my dad to suicide,” said Mamer.
Since her dad’s death, she has dedicated her career to helping stop suicide. Focusing on young people through the Helpline Center.
“I feel a passion to help youth because it is really important to know that those complex feelings that you experience going through middle school and high school are normal,” said Mamer.
In working with young people, Mamer has found that their friends will often be the first to see a potential problem.
“As a friend, when you notice someone is struggling, you are not expected to have all of the answers; you are not expected to know exactly what it is that you need to say, but just checking in on them and letting them know that you are there to support them and to be their friend,” said Mamer.
Mamer says this is where 988 comes in. It is pretty much established that a lot of young people feel more comfortable texting or chatting online. By design, both are available through the 988 Lifeline. Help is just three numbers away.
Both Mamer and Dr. Stanley hope easy to access to help will save lives.
Avera Behavioral Health has started a campaign called “Ask the question.” Encouraging people to reach out to those who may be struggling and simply ask how they are doing or if they have thoughts of suicide.