Pittsburgh medical expert discusses alarming trend, how to save lives


May marks Mental Health Awareness Month as some of America’s youth are experiencing a mental health crisis. Survey results from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published in April indicated 1 in 4 high school students in the United States seriously considered suicide and about 1 in 10 students had attempted suicide. Even before the arrival of COVID-19 in 2019, an average of nearly 36.7% of high school students reported persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness, according to the CDC. Pittsburgh’s Action News 4 spoke to a medical expert about what can be done to stop the alarming trend and save lives. Watch the full report in the video player above.”One of the problems with suicide and depression is we aren’t very willing to talk about it in public and it takes some courage to put that out there,” said Gary Swanson, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at Allegheny Health Network. Experts say how we think about our mental health is developed early in our lives.Jesse Putkoski said the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has programs for teens including one called “Seize the Awkward” campaign, giving kids real tools.”That provides information and resources about how to recognize warning signs. Start a conversation with a friend if you’re concerned about them, what to do during the conversation and what to do after the conversation,” Putkoski said.The CDC survey found that when teens feel connected to other students and adults at their school, they were less likely to report feeling sad or hopeless. Only 47% reported feeling close to other people at their school. “Kids will talk I think when they feel somebody is listening. Not telling them what to do and when they’re not afraid there is gonna be some negative consequence,” Swanson said. The CDC found more than one-third of high school students reported they experienced poor mental health during the pandemic and 44% reported they persistently felt sad or hopeless during the past year. Putkoski said more people are talking about mental health, seeing it as a sign of strength and it needs to be taken care of in the same way as your physical health. The AFSP toll free crisis line is open 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255 and the crisis text line number is open at 741-741.

May marks Mental Health Awareness Month as some of America’s youth are experiencing a mental health crisis.

Survey results from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published in April indicated 1 in 4 high school students in the United States seriously considered suicide and about 1 in 10 students had attempted suicide.

Even before the arrival of COVID-19 in 2019, an average of nearly 36.7% of high school students reported persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness, according to the CDC.

Pittsburgh’s Action News 4 spoke to a medical expert about what can be done to stop the alarming trend and save lives.

Watch the full report in the video player above.

“One of the problems with suicide and depression is we aren’t very willing to talk about it in public and it takes some courage to put that out there,” said Gary Swanson, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at Allegheny Health Network.

Experts say how we think about our mental health is developed early in our lives.

Jesse Putkoski said the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has programs for teens including one called “Seize the Awkward” campaign, giving kids real tools.

“That provides information and resources about how to recognize warning signs. Start a conversation with a friend if you’re concerned about them, what to do during the conversation and what to do after the conversation,” Putkoski said.

The CDC survey found that when teens feel connected to other students and adults at their school, they were less likely to report feeling sad or hopeless.

Only 47% reported feeling close to other people at their school.

“Kids will talk I think when they feel somebody is listening. Not telling them what to do and when they’re not afraid there is gonna be some negative consequence,” Swanson said.

The CDC found more than one-third of high school students reported they experienced poor mental health during the pandemic and 44% reported they persistently felt sad or hopeless during the past year.

Putkoski said more people are talking about mental health, seeing it as a sign of strength and it needs to be taken care of in the same way as your physical health.

The AFSP toll free crisis line is open 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255 and the crisis text line number is open at 741-741.



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