Teenagers & mental health challenges

DANVILLE, Ill. (WCIA) -- Some professors believe intense pressures are to blame for the rising number of teenage deaths. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15 - 24 year olds.

Some fear it could be getting worse in Central Illinois. Hoopeston High School trained staff about mental health concerns and opened up the training to everyone in the community.

They want to teach more than 2,000 people by the end of their "Now is the Time" grant. It provides up to $125,000 for up to three years, but they only have one year left and they still want to train 850 people to reach their goal.

Sierra Seventy is doing this for her teammates.

"Having this course on our shoulders is something that people maybe will sit down and listen to us a little more or look up to us a little more."

She's a softball captain at Danville Area Community College. During Nationals last year, Seventy says a teammate lost someone close to her and the team had to come together to help her deal with it.

"There's problems like that with everybody. If it's losses at home, family, friends, it's not easy being an athlete and a student and go through things like that."

Area superintendents say 70% of students in high school will suffer some mental health concerns. Professor Jim Russel says it's because this generation's obstacles are much different.

Classes in Central Illinois are tackling the changes teenagers face.

"Emphasis sometimes on how people look, how they come across. I think, sometimes, the downside of all the social media plays a part into it as well."

What they learn is sometimes just a shoulder to lean on is the best medicine.

"If I can be the person who gives them an avenue where they can be heard, that might be all they need in that particular situation."

Listening to young adults, when they're acting differently, can make a difference. Simply asking "Are you okay?" can go a long way. Other districts involved include Iroquois, Edgar and Clark.


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