3 On Your Side Investigates - Before It's Too Late - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

3 On Your Side Investigates - Before It's Too Late

Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

The numbers are growing every single day for child and teen suicides in Mississippi.  Suicide is the third leading cause of death in Mississippi for 15 to 24-year-olds. 

The numbers are even more disturbing for kids ages 10 to 15. What can we do to save a child's life Before It's Too Late?  3 On Your Side Investigates to find answers.

In December a Yazoo City family outraged when a 10 year old boy so hurt by bullying he left a suicide note at school. It was days before his guardians found out about his plea for help.

“It could have been a conversation about burying my grandson," said  McDaniel Gatson.

Suicides for young children are unusual but they are not unheard of.  In fact the youngest child to attempt suicide was just 5 years old.

Teresa Mosley said, "I wanted people to know because people will talk."

Suicide is a personal issue for Teresa Mosley. She has turned grief into a mission. "I lost a daughter who had suffered from anxiety, depression who died by suicide at the age of 15 and a half on June 13, 2006."

Teresa discovered her daughter's body and now says her life's work is about helping kids and other parents.

Teresa Mosley explained, "when I found Elizabeth I immediately dropped to my knees and said 'God you've got to use this because I did not want her life to be gone in vain.'”

The symptoms are different in children and adults and often can be subtle and deceiving. Dr. Susan Buttross, a Developmental Behavioral Pediatric Specialist at the University of Mississippi Medical Center explains.

Buttross said, "if you are concerned about a child's withdrawal, or a lack of participation, or a change in mood or change in appetite say something, ask a question.”

The State Department of Mental Health has worked with state lawmakers to make sure teachers and school staff are educated on suicide prevention.

Molly Portera, Director of Suicide Prevention and Outreach with the Department of Mental Health said, "House Bill 263, which was passed in 2017, that bill requires that all school district employees be trained in suicide prevention."

We have found on average, there is a suicide committed by a child under the age of 13 every 5 days in this country. According to the Centers for Disease Control between 1991 and 2015, 1,309 children ages 5-12 took their lives.   That is not counting kids who try to self-harm.  Mississippi does not keep a record of attempted suicides.

Portera said, "among 6th through 11th graders almost 20 percent have thought seriously about suicide and 11 percent had attempted suicide."

Wendy Bailey, the Director of the Bureau of Outreach, Planning and Development with the Department of Mental Health said, "for every suicide there are 25 attempts. Well if we lose about 55 young adults in Mississippi each year to suicide that's over 1300 attempts."

Contact the Crisis Line is manned 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and phones rarely stop ringing. They average about 12 hundred calls a month, 20 percent of those calls are from teens. Brenda Patterson is the Director.  There are even more mind blowing details on suicides for kids. We have learned it is the second leading cause of death for children 10 to 24.

Patterson said, "it surpasses any kind of a death of a teen through homicide, as well as a combined cancer, HIV, other kinds of disabilities all combined, it surpasses all of those."

Everyone we talked with emphasizes the same thing, it is time to get rid of the shame and stigma associated with suicide if we want to save other children.

Dr. Buttross told us, "there's no shame in it, there's a whole lot of sadness.”

Patterson added, "so many people think if you ask the question its gonna put the idea in their mind and that is so not the case. In fact it is the best thing you can do."

Teresa Mosley says suicide has a ripple effect in a family. Her youngest daughter was nine when Elizabeth took her life.

Mosley said, "she didn't want to go to counseling. She was afraid that people would think that our family was dirty, that we had a secret and it took many years for her to realize that that was not true."

She shares this advice.

Teresa Mosley said, "we need to take it seriously, we need to talk about it. I wish we could be open to the fact that it is nothing to be ashamed of. The only shame is to ignore it and not getting the help you need."

There were 4 suicides in 2016 for children 5 to 14 in Mississippi. One of those deaths in Madison County, one in Rankin County. 

This reminder for parents, if you see drastic changes in your child's behavior, if they go from being depressed to happy, if they withdraw from things they usually love like sports or other activities, ask questions.

If you think you may need help or more information to reach a child who may be suffering you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or CONTACT the Crisis Line at (601) 713-HELP (4357).

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