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With child suicides, ‘prevention is the best medicine,’ expert says

Published: Dec. 6, 2021 at 7:00 PM EST
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Last week, two students from Grovetown died by suicide just a day apart.

It’s a conversation that’s hard for anyone – but especially for kids. We sat down with a pediatrician to talk about how and when parents should have these conversations and what warning signs to look for.

“It’s talking to each other that’s the magic in prevention,” said Dr. Janice Key of the Medical University of South Carolina.

With young children, keep it simple: elementary children, be honest; and middle schoolers, add details and talk about warning signs.

“Families having stress – and whose not have stress right now? We’re all having stress,” said Key.

Key says the major diagnostic criteria of depression is sadness, but it looks different in children.

Preschoolers and early elementary students tend to regress throwing tantrums. Teenagers and preteens manifest frequent irritability. Some other red flags – if your kid is struggling in school, has a lack of appetite, sleep or substance abuse. Make sure your child knows mental health conditions are diseases that can be treated and help is available.

“Prevention is the best medicine, and taking care of kids, preventing mental health problems is the same as just basic consistent parenting,” said Key.

There are three main components.

“We call this triple-P: parenting practices, positive parenting practices. ... It’s being there for your kid, so especially being there,” she said.

She says eat meals together and have ordinary conversation. Maintain healthy lifestyles and get enough sleep.

“If you find that you yourself are easily irritated and are blowing up at your kids, then check and make sure you’re not depressed,” said Key.

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