“Suicide is on the rise in our youth”: Mental health advocates speak up during Mental Illness Awareness Week

Local News

WICHITA COUNTY (KFDX/KJTL) — Millions of Americans face the reality of living with a mental health condition and all the ways it can directly impact those around them.

October third through the ninth is Mental Illness Awareness Week, and those who work directly to create resources for people living with mental illness said everyone can help each other when it comes to living with these illnesses.

For Hope Squad member and Co-Founder of Holy Kombucha, Theresa Pham, support for those struggling with mental illnesses is something near and dear to her heart, especially because she wishes there was more of it before her own son tragically died by suicide.

“My son passed away on October 15th just two years ago in 2019, so doing all this actually is a form of healing for me because I get to tell my son’s story, and in doing so, I hope to save lives, and that’s very healing for me,” Pham said.

Pham, who is a member and advisor for the Hope Squad, a youth suicide prevention group used in many North Texas school districts, said it’s very important to discuss how mental illness is affecting children.

“Suicide is on the rise in our youth,” Pham said. “Kids from age range of 10-24, there’s a huge rate of increase in suicide over the past ten years: like 60%, and that’s alarming because no other group has that kind of rate of increase.”

Locally, those like Cynthia Brock of Red River Hospital said they are proud they can help those in our community work through mental health problems.

“Red River is an acute inpatient behavioral health hospital, so folks come to us when they are truly in a crisis,” Brock said. “We also have outpatient programming for those who don’t need to stay in a hospital setting.”

Brock also said it’s important to note that there are several local options that anyone can go to for help around town.

“It’s absolutely wonderful to know that we have these things in North Texas,” Brock said. “We are always here; I can’t tell you enough how all of these services are there, 24/7, somebody’s there — a person you can talk to or text with who is there for you and who wouldn’t be there if they weren’t concerned.”

Both Pham and Brock said keeping mental health at the top of our priority list is best.

“It’s as important as we place the importance on our physical health,” Pham said. “We go to the doctor’s, we go to dentist’s very regularly, and it’s the same thing with our mental health — you have to check in on each other.”

“I think the important part is to reach out and let someone know that you’re in need.”

If you or someone you know may be going through a mental health crisis, you can find resources here.

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