LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Some Nevada teens and students led a groundbreaking virtual talk on Thursday night to discuss coping with the isolation, loneliness and other mental health struggles amid the pandemic.
The talk was hosted by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Southern Nevada and touched on a variety of key points and strategies to help curb a troubling trend of student suicides.
According to authorities, at least 19 Clark County students have died by suicide in the last 12 months.
"I think this pandemic has made us rethink how we live and everything," said Tim, a sophomore at Advanced Technologies Academy in Las Vegas.
"It's made us more mindful about our safety and our loved ones, and it adds anxiety about this unknown virus that you can't see," he said.
Tim was one of several students who was involved in the virtual meeting.
"I felt like at the beginning of the pandemic a lot of things were happening at the same time, which triggered my depression, my anxiety, along with everybody else," said Cimarron-Memorial High School student Danna.
"I'm pretty sure that happened to everybody," she added.
Danna said she was finding comfort in reaching out to friends and truly sharing her feelings.
She's asking others to do the same.
It's part of a new movement that encourages students to reach out to five of their friends called #Ask5.
"I think it's really important that we don't focus too much on social media," said Lauren Edgeworth, another student who participated in the talk. "Especially because everything we post on social media, it's like a highlight reel of our lives."
"We don't see what's going on behind the screen or how someone else is feeling, we just see their happy pictures and their highlight moments," added Edgeworth.
Dr. Sheldon Jacobs, vice president of NAMI-Southern Nevada, also took part in the discussion on Thursday and says mental health is a very serious and urgent crisis facing students.
Experts say, just like a broken arm requires medical attention, mental health can leave emotional scars that require treatment as well.
"A lot of this was brought on the pandemic," said Dr. Jacobs.
"The pandemic has exacerbated the mental health and mental health conditions and we're starting to see some of the residual effects from that, unfortunately," added Jacobs.
Jacobs says there has been a spike in not only student suicides but also hospital stays connected to students suffering from psychiatric distress along with suicidal thoughts or attempts.
If you or someone you know needs support, Crisis Support Services of Nevada is available at 1-800-273-8255 or text "HOME" to 741741.
You can also visit here for additional websites and resources.