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Clark County School District addressing student mental health crisis

Posted at 5:31 AM, Aug 18, 2021

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Twenty-four kids in the Clark County School District have died from self-harm during the coronavirus pandemic.

And this has spurred district officials to implement several mental health monitoring and treatment programs to avoid more loss of life.

Dr. Jeffrey Murawsky said the statistic is bracing and one that indicates how deep the impact of the pandemic runs.

"It's a good number to keep in your head in thinking about the impact of a disease," he said.

Murawsky said one in six teens has thought about suicide and made a plan to carry it out.

Some of the factors include depression and anxiety brought about by masks, COVID fears and relearning socialization along with the return of bullying as students return to in-person classes.

"The mental health crisis in our youth has been something that's been with us since before the pandemic, and any stressor can make that worse," Murawsky said.

CCSD Superintendent Jesus Jara said the district is responding.

"We don't know how deep the scars are," he said. "That is also one of the priorities we have."

Jara says the district contracted GoGuardian to implement a program called Beacon that tracks student activity on CCSD devices for any self-harm searches and alerts administrators to any potentially dangerous activity.

Recently, CCSD has also launched a 24/7 hotline with Care Solace where kids can get mental health referrals on the phone or online.

Anyone seeking help can call 888-515-0595 at any time, and services are available in more than 200 languages.

"The well-being of our students, our staff, is our top priority," Jara said.

Murawsky says parents would arguably play the largest role in helping their kids work through mental health issues by recognizing that stress is real and looking for mental health red flags like loss of social groups and isolation.

"It's a really hard one," Murawsky said. "And as a parent, I'm just as guilty of it. It's really about listening and not about solving. What they really want from us is to just listen."

Murawsky says the best way to know if people need to seek professional help is to listen to your gut.

Another great resource for such situations is the National Suicide Hotline that can be reached at 1-800-273-TALK.

Get more on this story in Wednesday's Daily Debrief:

Daily Debrief: Addressing student mental health crisis