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Local experts respond to uptick in teenage suicides

Posted at 5:57 PM, Nov 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-19 18:57:25-05

With a nationwide uptick in teenage suicides, medical experts are weighing in.

Dr. John Lusins is a psychiatrist at the Corpus Christi Medical Center, and said there is a daily increase of teens exhibiting suicidal behaviors.

“We’re usually pretty full, but every single day we are at capacity for our child units,” Lusins said.

He said social media has been a large contributing factor over the last ten years.

“It’s not just Facebook. There are multiple platforms that teenagers and young adults use, that it’s hard for parents to keep up with,” Lusins said.

Because the human brain and coping skills are not fully developed during the teenage years, some children lack the emotional capacity to deal with stressful circumstances. Situations that may not matter years from now can still have catastrophic consequences.

“With a person that doesn’t have great coping skills that are developed, or great friend network, it can result in things like suicide or self harm, or drug use even,” Lusins said.

He mentioned warning signs for parents to be aware of, such as irritability, change in sleeping and eating patterns, and frequent changes in their child​’s friend network.

Lusins advised monitoring screen time and social network sites, and recognizing the fine line between being intrusive and being informed.

“That’s a difficult conversation to have,” Lusins said. “They deserve their privacy, however, when you start seeing these signs we talked about, it is time to dig a little deeper and make sure they’re okay.”

Doctors also fear what is defined as “copycat behavior,” when impressionable teenagers witness the devastating effects of one of their peers taking their own life, and then seek the same reaction.

Lusins referenced the national increase in suicide rates after Robin Williams committed suicide in August of 2014.