Study, local experts see sharp increase in suicide risks for children

Miami Valley News

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – A study is revealing a troubling trend for young Americans and local mental health workers say they’re seeing a similar pattern in the Miami Valley.

Research from the American Academy of Pediatrics found a growing number of children and teens are thinking about or attempting suicide. The study released this month tallied emergency room and inpatient encounters between 2008-2015. It found the numbers more than doubled, with half of the cases among 15 to 17-year-olds and girls making up two-thirds of the cases.

Montgomery County Alcohol, Drug Addiction & Mental Health Services (ADAMHS) explained the agency doesn’t track local data in the same capacity, but many mental health workers say demand for depression and anxiety counseling has steadily increased.

“We’ve seen an increasing number of teens coming through the doors for treatment or parents bringing their teens in for treatment because they report not sleeping well or their relationships aren’t going well with friends or at school,” said Jodi Long, the Director of Treatment and Supportive Services at ADAMHS.

Long pointed to another study, from San Diego State University, as a theory to the increase.

The research found teens who spent more time in front of screen devices were less happy than their peers who limited their screen time.

“If you’re not happy and you have less social interaction with friends, with peers, with activities outside of social media inside a bedroom, it puts you at an increased risk for depression and anxiety,” said Long.

Dayton mother Christina Baker said one of her sons struggled with mental health issues and although the now 27-year-old had limited exposure to social media, she believes screen time can affect mental well-being.

“The internet brought the entire world into our house,” Baker said. “It’s hard enough to fight the neighbor as a kid, let alone the entire world.”

Long recommends parents monitor social media use and limit screen time to one hour per day if possible. She says it’s important to keep an open dialogue with your child and address concerns with a pediatrician.

Some common warning signs of depression, anxiety or other mental illness include:

  • Mood swings
  • Changed sleeping habits
  • Struggling in school
  • Social isolation

You can find more risk factors and signs from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention here.

If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of self-harm, you can find help from the following resources.


  • Suicide Prevention Center: 937-229-7777
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
  • Crisis Text Line: text TALK to 741741 to text with a trained crisis counselor for free, 24/7
  • Visit any local emergency room or mental health service center
  • In Montgomery County, download the GetHelpNow app. Find more info here.

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