More Teens, Kids Taking Their Own Lives – 8 News NOW

LAS VEGAS — More kids and teens in Clark County are taking their own lives, according to an analysis of Clark County records by 8 News NOW.

The latest, a 16-year-old boy, shot and killed himself in his backyard on Monday. Tragedies like that are highlighting the importance of suicide outreach.

So far, six people in Clark County, under the age of 18, died from suicide this year, including a 10-year-old boy who hung himself in February.

Five youth died from suicide for all off last year. 2011 was a bad year in Clark County, with 16 youth suicides.

In the fifth largest school district in the country, there is always a chance a student could be in crisis.

“This is like a dispatch center, but for psychologists and counselors in this department,” said Rosemary Virtuoso, the Coordinator of Student Threat and Crisis Response Department for the Clark County School District.

Virtuoso says more students are threatening suicide.

“The start of the school year has been a bumpy one with regards to a lot of kids talking about suicide. So, we’re very concerned,” Virtuoso said.

The Nevada Office of Suicide Prevention says, historically, the silver state has had a high rate of overall suicides.

“For many years, we were number one. Currently, we’re at number four, and we’ve never been lower than number five,” said Richard Egan, the training and network facilitator for the Nevada Office of Suicide Prevention.

From 1999 to 2010, the latest figures available, the National Center for Health Statistics says 220 people under the age of 18 committed suicide in Nevada.

That ranks our state 15th in the country, 31 percent higher than the national average.

Of those deaths, 107 were by firearms, tying Nevada for 18th highest in the U.S., 40 percent higher than the national average.

SOS: Signs of Suicide is a nationally-recognized program used in CCSD to identify symptoms of depression, target those at risk for suicide and get them help.

For now, CCSD has expanded the SOS: Signs of Suicide program district wide in hopes of addressing this growing issue.

Experts say one of the biggest warning signs is a change in behavior with young people. Parents are also encouraged to talk with their kids.

The suicide hotline is manned 24-hours a day, 7 days a week. It is 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

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