LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- Since the onset of the pandemic the Clark County School District has seen a surge in student suicides.
On November 13, Superintendent Dr. Jesus Jara confirmed they lost 11 students in one semester.
“These are lives of our children. We’ve lost you know more this year than all of last year in this first semester so this is a sense of urgency that we need to have around our kids lives,” Dr. Jara said.
Dr. Michelle Paul, director of the PRACTICE Mental Health Clinic at UNLV weighed-in about the recent spike in student suicides.
“As you close in on our community, our schools, and our families, and our children, we see that there is an increased risk for a lot of sources of pain. One source of pain could be health anxiety, another could be social isolation, frustration that comes from struggling to access services through school. Or struggling in school because the remote learning modality doesn’t quite suit you,” Dr. Paul said.
Dr. Paul said the youth is not only dealing with the loss of social engagement, but the loss of celebrating things we look forward to when we’re young. She added we don’t have the benefit of perspective when we’re young.
She said it’s important for adults and guardians to recognize that kids and teens have had significant losses. Dr. Paul suggests talking with your teen.
“Having empathy, saying me too, or I see you. I really see you, can often be the most healing thing,” Dr. Paul said.
Caroline and Lauren Edgeworth attend private school in Las Vegas. Caroline is Junior and her sister is Sophomore. The sisters said they're feeling the impacts of social isolation.
“We’re seeing the positives of everyone’s life and we’re dealing with our own depression and anxiety and stress and no one else is portraying this on social media so we don’t know if everyone else is going through it,” Caroline said.
“The image that people portray is not always what they truly are behind the screen and I feel like everyone goes through their own personal struggles but not one wants to talk about them, no one wants put that out there,” Lauren said.
The girls lead a teen committee apart of HOPE Means Nevada, a nonprofit that brings awareness of mental health. https://hopemeansnevada.org/
One in five people experience mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
“Our campaign that we’ve been running is #askfive, where we encourage our peers, our classmates, anyone we know to reach out and ask five of their friends how they’re truly doing,” Caroline said.
“I think it’s super important, that every teen knows that they can reach out to someone, everyone needs to have the resources to be able to finally get your emotions out and just express how they’re truly feeling,” Lauren said.
They want to get rid of the stigma of mental health and normalize the conversation around it.
Their message is, you don’t have to struggle in silence, and you’re not alone.
“In the real world, mental health is just as important as your physical health. It should be taken care of, you should treat it, and it should be discussed,” Caroline said.
The PRACTICE Mental Health Clinic at UNLV is offering free distance counseling for the community. Click here for information. ThePRACTICE-ShortTermDistanceCounselingServices.pdf (unlv.edu)
NAMI Southern Nevada provides programs and services. Click here. https://www.namisouthernnevada.org/
CCSD’s website provides contacts for mental health resources here. https://www.ccsd.net/community/mentalhealth/