Childhood suicide rates are on the rise, especially in New Mexico.
With the holidays behind us the start of a new year is a good time to focus on mental health especially with the focus for this year being on child suicide.
Kirt Davis, ASAP Program Manager, said many parents are unaware that childhood suicide is becoming a growing issue, especially here in New Mexico.
"The suicide rate, especially in New Mexico, is skyrocketing," Davis said.
Suicide rates among 10 to 24 year-olds has increased by 37.9 percent in New Mexico according to a New Mexico Department of Health report dated October 2018.
"Children nowadays have to deal with a lot more than we did when we were growing up," Davis said.
They have to deal with things like cyberbullying, drugs and alcohol and also includes those confused about their sexuality.
Davis said he is working to educate parents to make sure they are watching their children and being more attentive, to include taking the time to listen and talk to them.
"Many parents treat their children like adults," Davis said. "But (the reality is) they can't handle it. They can't handle things adults have to handle."
On top off all this pressure, Davis said there is a lot of information on the Internet on how to commit suicide.
"When I was eight years old I had no idea how to commit suicide," Davis said. "They do. As parents you have to be very careful what they are watching and talk to them about it."
Many children and teens don't know how to cope and they think there is no way out. Kids look at everything going on at home and they take on that stress.
"Suicide is glamorized," Davis said. "You see it everywhere."
Davis said it is very important that parents don't dismiss what children say or do as a way of just getting attention.
"If you hear them say they want to commit suicide in any way - you have to stop and have a conversation with them," he said.
In talking to them make sure to go through the reasons they feel the need to do that and get them the help they need - whether it is talking to a counselor or anything they need to address the issues.
Potential Warning Signs
"If you have watched your child grow then you should know your child's habits. So if any of these things change drastically then it is something that needs to be addressed," Davis said. "You need to make time to sit down with them, give them your undivided attention and listen to what they have to say."
Davis said there are also many challenges online taunting children and teenagers to commit suicide and many parents don't even know they exist.
He said parents need to be more involved on what is going on in social media. He suggested parents create a social media account just to see what is out there and know what their children may be exposed to.
He said parents can check out Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat, and see what people are commenting and see the conversations they are having.
"Don't ever approach your child with the mentality of "I caught you", use it as an opportunity to talk to them and have a conversation about the topic."
Davis said it is important for parents to be more involved in their child's life and find ways to get help if they won't talk.
Resources on post to help both you and your child