Shocking numbers released by the CDC say the number of teen suicides has spiked by more than 75 percent in the last decade.
Local school districts are saying this report is downright terrifying, which is why the Ballston Spa school district has been pouring resources into mental health awareness and suicide prevention. They hope to show education extends beyond good grades and staying alive is the priority.
"Imagine growing up with that on your plate, and we're telling them they need to focus on your reading? Come on," said Ballston Spa Superintendent Ken Slentz.
Suicides for 10- to 14-year-olds nearly tripled since 2007. To combat that trend, the district has counselors in all four of its elementary schools. Slentz says they need to let students know it's okay to talk about struggles.
"We can wish them away or we can build a proactive model which starts at the very earliest grades [like] kindergarten. This is when we need to start specifically teaching kids to talk about their feelings," Slentz said.
Katherine Duncan is the director of public health in Saratoga County. Their suicide coalition partners with the school to educate staff.
"You do have to pay attention to mental health just as much as you have to pay attention to someone with a high risk [of] cancer," Duncan said.
Duncan believes suicide rates are linked to the way this generation communicates.
"Social media is not a friend and it does contribute a lot and kids are isolated, socially isolated," Duncan said.
"But it's no longer just a phone. The power of that device, both good and ill, is something we battle every single day," Slentz said.
They say the way to tackle this crisis is through prevention, cutting through the mental health stigma, and most importantly speaking up.
"You gotta talk to one of us, so we can talk to them to make sure they can get the help that they need," Slentz said.
If you or someone you love is struggling or in need of help, you aren't alone. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is open 24/7 and can be reached at 1-800-273-TALK.
Those in crisis can also connect through text through the crisis text line; just send the phrase "GOT5" to 741-741. The suicide prevention coalition of Saratoga County is available at (518) 584-9030.