Suicide rates among Tennessee children ages 10-14 called 'alarming'

Jun 20, 2018

HENDERSONVILLE, Tenn. (OSBORNE)  --  A nationally recognized suicide prevention group is sounding the alarm over a rise in depression among Tennessee’s children.

The Jason Foundation is headquartered in Hendersonville and has affiliates in 117 locations nationwide. Last year the Foundation trained three out of four Tennessee teachers on the suicide warning signs.

Jason Foundation founder Clark Flatt lost his son Jason to suicide in 1997.

Foundation president Clark Flatt says new federal numbers show an “alarming” 1.6 percent increase in Tennessee children ages 10 to 14 saying they feel sad or depressed.  

“That was a pretty large increase. And of course hopelessness and sadness, or the beginning of depression, is one of the leading causes of suicidal ideation no matter what age group it is.”

Flatt says nationally suicide has now become the second leading cause of death among 10 to 14 year olds.

Middle Tennessee’s Teresa Kimbro Culbreath has lost two family members to suicide. She says listening is critical.

“Have compassion and understanding. If somebody wants to talk they’re trying to reach out for help. And if we could just try to be there.”

Culbreath says get familiar with the warning signs. Suicidal individuals may show drastic changes in behavior, a loss of interest in work, school or hobbies, they may give away prized possessions, or begin to withdraw from family and friends.

Clark Flatt says there’s some good news in the new suicide data.  He says the number of Tennessee youth saying they’ve already attempted suicide dropped 1.6 percent in the most recent report.

Use the link below to listen the full interview with the Jason Foundation’s Clark Flatt.