The newest Healthy Youth Survey conducted in Washington revealed a disturbing trend after interviewing almost a quarter of a million teens. 23% of tenth graders said they had experienced suicidal thoughts or had reported feeling suicidal over the past year. What’s worse is that, according to this report, 10% of tenth graders actually attempted suicide in the past year.
The importance of teen mental health can’t be overstated or underestimated. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for ages 10-24, and four out of five teens who have attempted suicide give clear warning signs of depression, that either go ignored or untreated.
Kilye Graves, a teen from Issaquah, Washington sat down with K5 News to share her experience with depression. “I was in a place where I felt alone and kind of helpless,” Graves says. “I stopped doing things, I stopped caring about school. Things here and there that I didn’t notice until it got worse and it showed.”
Her symptoms of depression first surfaced in 5th grade and continued to snowball in her teens. “I tried to—I did something that put me in a facility,” she says, recalling that, not too long ago she was trapped in a downward spiral struggling with school, sports, and her sexuality. Minor mental health treatments weren’t working for her, but at Smokey Point Behavioral Health Hospital she found the help she desperately needed to begin the healing process.
“I loved it there. That sounds weird in a way (but) It really helped to be around people you can talk to and being there just put all of these puzzle pieces together,” Graves said as she describes her experience at the mental health facility.
Kilye also met someone she credits for saving her life there, Dr. Caroline Fisher, a mental health professional at Smokey Point Behavioral Hospital.
“It’s hard to be a kid these days—it really is,” Dr. Fisher says. Dr. Fisher goes on to discuss how social media (our wireless world) puts an unnecessary amount of stress and anxiety on teenagers. In a world that priorities likes & retweets, this causes teenagers such as Kilyre to question their self-worth. In her experience, mental health therapy combined with the right environment and external support was the catalyst for healing.
“Even better, they keep living and turn into valuable people. If they die—we won’t have these valuable people and they are precious,” Dr. Fisher continues, overwhelmed with emotion. Even after assisting hundreds of kids to overcome their mental health issues, the joy Dr. Fisher gets from improving someone else’s life still manages to leave her emotional. She can’t help but blink her tears of joy as she talks about Kilye and her progress.
Teen mental health is hard to navigate because often it is concealed as a phase of teenage behavior that might just pass. Teenagers like Kilye help broaden the horizon and eradicate the stigma associated with mental illnesses. Asking for help or even knowing you or a loved one needs help can be challenging to say the least, but success stories like these give us all hope and reason to not suffer alone in silence. If you or a loved one is in need of mental health treatment, remember that you are not alone. The mental health professionals at Smokey Point Behavioral Hospital are here as an ally, and together we can work through mental illness.