SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 Utah) – Suicide is one of the leading causes of death for Utah teenagers. Experts are urging parents to speak to their kids about suicide and mental health, just like they would school and other topics. This comes as family and friends mourn the death of a Skyline High School Student.
On Tuesday night hundreds gathered at Skyline High School for a candle light vigil to remember 17 year old Andrew Garcia. He took his own life the day before. His grandfather Wayne Voorhes was on hand to grieve with fellow students, but also talked with them about preventing this in the future.
“If they are having problems they need to reach out to somebody, and not necessarily their parents,” said Voorhes.
Voorhes said his grandson was a straight A student, and had several scholarship offers to play soccer at several different colleges. He said he wants these stories told to show this can happen to any teenager.
Don Fennimore is the Supervisor of the University of Utah’s Mobile Crisis Outreach Center. He notes teens deal with more stresses and pressure than students just two decades ago. He notes that social media is only making things more difficult.
“Kids are really not equipped to handle all of these kind of adult stresses so they wind up having emotional problems, becoming depressed, and anxious,” said Fennimore
Experts said social media can often give kids the idea they have to be perfect. Fennimore notes teens already make more impulsive decisions than adults. Which makes them more susceptible to suicide after a major event like a break up, bad grades, or getting arrested.
According to experts parents should watch out for kids who break from routine. This may include not hanging out with friends, skipping activities they once loved, or spending more time alone. Fennimore said parents need to talk with kids about how they are feeling just as much as they do other topics.
“Basically you are talking about physical health with your kids, you’re talking about their love life, you should also be talking about their emotional health as well,” said Fennimore.
There are several resources for students needing help or someone to talk with. Including phone apps like Safe UT which was created by the U of U.