New health report for California shows 34% increase in teen suicide and 29% rise in childcare costs in past 3 years
The Orange County Register / October 1, 2019
A new national report focusing on women’s and children’s health has found a 34% increase in teen suicides among California youth between the ages of 15 and 19 over the past three years — significantly higher than the national increase of 25% — and a 29% surge in infant childcare costs during the same period.
The report, titled America’s Health Rankings 2019, was released by the United Health Foundation, a philanthropic nonprofit that aims to expand healthcare access.
While this report has been published for 30 years, researchers have taken a deeper dive into women’s and children’s health over the past three years, said Dr. Janice Huckaby, chief medical officer for maternal-child health strategy at Optum Healthcare Solutions in Baltimore.
According to one expert, parents should monitor what their children are doing online to watch for warning signs.
“We’ve talked to parents who’ve lost kids who check their child’s online activity after the fact and find things,” said Lyn Morris, senior vice president of clinical operations at Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services, which provides suicide prevention services at about 100 schools in Los Angeles and Orange counties serving more than 120,000 children and adults.
“They feel like they could’ve done something had they checked it earlier,” Morris added. “When it comes to teens, it’s a fine line. Privacy is important, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of their health and their lives.”
Parents should always monitor their children’s mental health just as they look after their physical health, Morris said.
“We stress the importance of talking to your children when they are not in a crisis,” she said. “A lot of these conversations happen in the car. Parents should also never worry that talking about suicide with their children will put the idea into their heads. We know that’s simply not true. On the other hand, these open conversations tell kids that their parents care about them.”
Suicide rates are much higher among LGBTQ teens, particularly among transgender teens, Morris said. She suggests that one good strategy for parents is to make pacts with other parents.
“I talk to my son’s friend’s parents and get to know them,” she said. “I tell them that if they see something or hear something, they let me know. And I would do the same. This way, parents don’t think they are offending each other by sharing this crucial information.”