LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — They are the young victims of the pandemic. 20 Clark County School District students who died by suicide.
The youngest one just 8 years old.
20 young souls lost forever since distance education began.
There is nothing we can do to brings those kids back and erase a life of pain for their loved ones. So the question is how do we stop the 21st kid from taking their life?
“If it does not kill you if you don’t get help for it, death is the ultimate,” Fonda Bryant said. Suicidal thoughts are something she understands.
“It’s been a long road. 26 years ago, I was diagnosed with depression after a suicide attempt,” she said.
Bryant is now a mental health and suicide prevention advocate.
“If we talk about suicide, we can stop it,” she says
However, that's a message some parents may be uncomfortable discussing with their child.
“The way that we have been handling suicide - especially among youth - isn’t working," Bryant said. "We tiptoe around it."
"We don’t want to talk about it," she continued, "and there’s a big myth out there that if you talk about suicide people will do it. That’s not true."
The warning signs of suicide include isolation, eating habits changing (eating too much or not enough), withdrawing, grades plummeting, signs of substance abuse, people talking about and being fixated on death, appearance changing (do they care about what they look like and then suddenly don’t?) and irritability, especially in younger children.
“And the thing is, you can’t be judgmental," Bryant said. "You have to be able to go to someone and talk to them in a positive way and ask them, ‘What’s going on with you?'"
“Let that child know you care about them. Let them know that you love them. And let them know that you want to help them,” she added.
Once they confide in you, Bryant says parents, family and friends can't worry about betraying a loved one's trust if they ask you not to say something.
“Your job, if you are truly concerned your child may be suicidal, you get them help,” she said.
Bryant compared it to not calling 9-1-1 if someone was having a heart attack.
Her aunt saved her life.
“I was so mad at my Aunt Kelly. But guess what? You’ll be alive to be mad,” Bryant concluded.
Struggles with mental health and suicidal ideation do not discriminate among the rich or poor, race or gender
Bryant points to Meghan Markle's recent interview when she revealed she considered suicide.
“A lot of people were surprised by that, but mental health advocates and mental health organizations are not,” Bryant said.
“We need to normalize the conversation of mental health. It’s no different from physical health cause this and this - the mind and body go together. I can’t take my head and put it on the counter until my depression subsides,” she said.
If you or someone you know needs help, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours a day in English and Spanish. You can call 800-273-8255 to speak with someone or visit SuicidePreventionLifeline.org to learn more. Online chatting is available too.