Spotting signs of bullying or depression can be difficult and having a conversation with your child about mental illness can be an even bigger challenge.
In West Virginia, suicide is the second leading cause of death for kids aged 15 to 19 and the fifth leading cause for children between the ages of 10 and 14.
“I think of a lot of us, we tend to misconceive what’s really transcribing as to what’s going on with the child and we neglect that. And when we minimize problems like that, it transcribes into bigger issues down the line,” explained Wayne Bennett, Cabell County School Therapist with Prestera.
Dr. Bob Rubenstein says there are a few key things to look for if you’re wondering if your child is considering taking their own life or is struggling with mental illness.
“Disruption of routines is where children all the sudden are hanging out with different friends, sleep patterns, change in personal hygiene,” Dr. Rubenstein added.
Things like dropping out of sports or clubs, a change in eating habits can be tell-tale signs that something is seriously wrong. Interactions with classmates can also be red flags.
“One sign of early recognition is bullying, and that seems to be a prominent things in schools. Especially in Cabell and Wayne County and the schools that I’ve been involved in. So as far as parents recognition- it’s just paying more attention,” Bennett said.
Experts say checking in with your child should be a daily habit, but if you believe something more is going on, don’t hesitate to ask.
“I just say to parents: be consistent. The worse things you’re going to be told is ‘mom, dad leave me alone.’ So what?” Dr. Rubenstein said.