FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sheriff’s Office: Talk with your Teens
“Back to school can be a difficult transition”
Contact: Susan Lilly, Public Information Officer
August 16, 2021 -- (San Miguel County, CO) – The San Miguel Sheriff’s Office is encouraging parents to talk with their kids to “take their temperature” on how they are doing as they are heading back to school.
“Some teens are super excited to return to the classroom, while others have a lot of anxiety about schoolwork, and for some, bullying,” Robin Slater, a behavioral health clinician with the Sheriff’s Office says, “Back to school can be a difficult transition for a lot of students.”
Students are also returning to school without one of their classmates who died by suicide this week. “We know this can create not only immense sadness, but also fear and a sense of lack of control,” Slater says.
Slater encourages parents to talk with their teens and ask them how they are doing. “Ask them how they are feeling about everything in general, about going back to school, the loss of their peer, COVID,” Slater says. “We need to take a pulse on their emotional state, and it’s not a one-time discussion. We should be fostering an open line of communication.”
Slater says it’s normal to feel anxious, scared, lonely and depressed at times, however sometimes resiliency is lost. “It’s dangerous when these emerging emotions result in unhealthy behaviors or plans to end one’s life.”
Slater says those who are at particular risk of planning to suicide include persons who experience:
- Prolonged exposure to harassment, bullying or unemployment.
- Stressful life events, such as divorce, a financial crisis, or loss of a loved one.
- Exposure to another person’s suicide, or to graphic or sensationalized accounts of suicide.
Mental health specialists say recognizing those at risk and watching for warning signs helps save lives.
The National Suicide Prevention Organization highlights these signs to watch for:
- Changes in behavior including presence of entirely new behaviors, especially if related to a painful event or loss.
- Noticeable changes in mood, sleep patterns or appetite.
- Loss of interest in activities that once provided pleasure.
- Isolating from friends and family.
- Increase in substance use.
- Talk of hopelessness, being a burden to others, feeling trapped, and/or expressing unbearable pain.
- Drop in grades or performance at work.
Mental Health experts emphasize that while most people who take their lives exhibit one or more of these warning signs, there is no one way to predict suicide and no one single cause. In fact, there are those who may not be suffering from a mental health illness such as depression and may even appear stable, even happy, who end up taking their life.
“Wherever your teen may be on the emotional spectrum, there is always help available,” Slater says, “That perhaps is one of the most important messages we have to both parents and their children.”
Mental health counselors say people who are thinking about ending their lives truly believe they are trapped with no other way out of their pain. “In any and all cases, we must emphasize to our teens that suicide is not the answer, it’s not the only way out of their pain, ” Slater says.
Research shows talking about suicide does not increase the chances or give someone the idea of suicide.
“You can and should be direct with a person you are concerned about and ask straight away – ‘are you thinking about ending your life.’ If they answer yes, ask them if they have a plan. If they do, you need to seek immediate help. That’s what we as behavioral health first-responders are here for,” Slater said.
Slater says if the person does not yet have a plan, talk more with him/her and see if you can encourage the individual to see a healthcare provider or ask if you can help connect the person to a mental health professional.
The following are available resources for people if they, a friend or loved one is in crisis:
- Colorado Crisis Services has a 24-hour hotline 1-844-493-TALK (8255).
- The Center for Mental Health also has a 24-hour hotline that people can call if they, a friend or loved one is in crisis: 970-252-6220
- The Center for Mental Health also has a 24-hour walk-in clinic in Montrose at 300 N. Cascade Road.
- The Telluride Regional Medical Center 24-hour Emergency Department is also a safe place to seek help for a suicidal person.
- Call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 800-273-8255
- Text the National 24-hour Crisis Line for any emotional emergency: 741-741
- If you are not in immediate crisis but would like to seek mental health services, contact your healthcare provide or the Center for Mental Health www.centermh.org.
“Suicide is a preventable death,” Sheriff Masters says. “Please talk to someone or call a hotline if you are thinking of taking your life.”
The San Miguel Sheriff’s Office, located in Telluride, Colorado and established in 1883, serves 7,800 residents and countless visitors across the 1,288 square miles of San Miguel County. Sheriff Bill Masters has been serving as the county’s elected Sheriff since 1980