LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Their lives changed almost overnight. As the coronavirus took its hold on the Las Vegas community, hundreds of thousands of students had a small part of their formative childhood years taken from them.
The shift to remote learning not only took away the important socialization of the classroom atmosphere, but it robbed many students across the valley of significant rites of passage: team sports, school dances, plays, field days, assemblies and more.
Lauren and Caroline Edgeworth are sisters and students at Bishop Gorman High School. They say they noticed a shift in their moods, and the energy of their friends at the start of the pandemic. That's why they joined Hope Means Nevada, an organization working to eliminate teen suicide and open discussions on mental health.
"It's something that's not normalized amongst teens, so I think it's really important to spread awareness," says Lauren Edgeworth.
The Edgeworth sisters serve as co-chairs on the organization's teen committee. They say if you are a teen who is having thoughts of suicide, there is help out there.
"Every teen has people who support them, who love them and care about them. I know sometimes it's really scary to take that first step, but once you start reaching out to a friend, you can be able to start getting help," Lauren Edgeworth says.
The Edgeworth's say it's also important for friends and family to notice the signs of a loved one who is struggling. Caroline says there is no blanket statement to cover all the signs, but the main thing to notice is there is a big change in behavior, mood, or normal daily patterns.
"Additionally, I think just checking in on your friends constantly. That's our motto at Home Means Nevada, which just means to check in on five of your friends and move past those typical surface-level conversations," says Caroline Edgeworth.
Hope Means Nevada has a list of questions to get these types of conversations started with friends and loved ones here.
One crucial step to normalizing the conversation surrounding mental health for teens, the Edgeworth sisters say, is being able to take mental health days from school.
The teens were there as Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak signed SB249 into law, making that happen. Students can now take mental health days as excused absences from school. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline will also be printed on student ID cards.
"Sometimes teens just need that day off, a day to recollect their thoughts if they are stressed about school, friends, anything in their lives. So, I think it's a really great step," Caroline Edgeworth says.
If you are someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, you can call one of the following numbers:
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK
- NAMI Hotline: 1-800-950-6264
Sponsored by America First Credit Union and Subaru of Las Vegas.