Mississippi mental health advocates and families are speaking out about youth suicide prevention. As MPB's Desare Frazier reports, the signs can be confusing.
Most adults remember some of the angst they felt as teenagers, dealing with peer pressure or not wanting to share their feelings with grown-ups. Teresa Mosley calls herself a suicide survivor. She says one warning sign can be confusing. Mosley says her daughter Elizabeth struggled with anxiety and later depression beginning in the 7th grade. She was hopeful when her daughter became cheerful after a bout of depression when she was 15. But that wasn't the case.
"I found her the next morning. So even though I thought she was better I think it was because she had finally made the decision that she was going to take her life," said Mosley.
That was 12 years ago. Mosley says talking about the need to end the stigma associated with mental illness has helped her heal from her daughter's death. She says too many people are embarrassed to seek help. Molly Portera is with the state department of mental health. She says in Mississippi suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death among young people ages 15 to 24. Portera says a law that took effect in 2017 requires all Mississippi school employees to have two hours of youth suicide prevention training and know the warning signs.
"Some of the warning signs to look for are withdrawing from activities or friends the child might normally hang out with or things the child might do. Any time a child is talking or writing about suicide, we have to take that seriously," said Portera.
Other signs include changes in moods, eating or sleeping habits. Portera says schools have resources for families in need of help. This is Youth Suicide Prevention Week.
For more information or for help call the Mississippi Department of Mental Health at: 877-210-8513 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255.