BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — The Louisiana Department of Health is spreading awareness about mental health as they report an increase in teens struggling mentally in the spring and summer months.
On Thursday, Southern University announced the death of 19-year-old freshman cheerleader Arlana Miller. In the wake of her death, Southern is now offering counseling on campus for any students who need it.
“I got really sad because it hit home,” said one mother, Sheryl Grismore.
Grismore’s daughter is also a freshman at Southern University. Grismore almost lost her daughter as she was struggling with mental health.
“When she first got to college she was stressing, doing all this work. She was stressing and like, ‘Mom, I don’t know if I can do this anymore,'” said Grismore.
Louisiana Department of Health Regional Medical Director Dr. Paulette Grey Riveria says suicide is the third leading cause of death among 10 to 34-year-olds.
“There has been an uptick in the report of sadness and depression and hopelessness through the pandemic,” she said.
Multiple student-athletes have recently died by suicide across the nation. Riveria says these students feel pressure while juggling academics, sports, and personal lives.
“Students who are involved in sports or actively engaged, they might need to be checked up on as often, they may appear to be extremely well,” said Riveria. “I think the status of athlete or colleague can give a false sense of protection.”
LDH says the following are warning signs for teens:
- Commonly irritable
- Angry, disengaged in social environments
- Disengaged or sudden interest with faith
- Phrases such as “I don’t think I matter”
Grismore wants to make sure parents and children don’t underestimate the importance of taking care of their minds.
“Listen to everything. And, you know, pay attention because anything can be a cry out for help,” she said.
If you’re in need of help or are in crisis, the number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. In July, all Louisiana residents will be able to dial 988 to automatically connect to the hotline.