This week, 23ABC is bringing mental illness and suicide in to the spotlight, and looking at how widespread the problem is in our community.
One out of five students on a typical high school campus has a diagnosable mental illness.
"Our kids are suffering,” Ellen Eggert with Kern County Mental Health said.
According to a study done by the CDC, 20% of teens ages 13 to 18 have a mental illness. Thirteen percent of children ages 8 to 15 have a mental illness.
"Psychological pain is pain,” Eggert said. “We can't see it like if you break your arm. But it is there. And we cannot sweep it under the rug."
According to Eggert, among kids and teens in the county, suicide rates have more than doubled from 2015 to 2016.
"Early intervention, education, knowing about the warning signs, knowing that we need to ask about suicide and having everybody aware, we can reduce the rate of suicide,” she said.
Eggert said children and teens should be asked about suicide.
"What's the worst thing that could happen if you ask the question? Well, they might get mad but they'll still be alive,” she said. “And I always ask, what's the worst thing that could happen if you don't ask the question? Well, they might die. Exactly. So, there's no harm, no foul in asking the question."
23ABC will be holding a Facebook Live panel to discuss mental illness and suicide with kids and teens on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 (24/7)
Crisis Text Line: 741-741 (24/7)
Kern County Mental Health Crisis Hotline: 1-800-991-5272 (24/7)
Kern County Mental Health: http://www.kernmentalhealth.org/
NAMI Kern County: http://namikerncounty.org/
Local Non-Profit: Save A Life Today-SALT:https://www.facebook.com/Save-A-Life-Today-SALT-674220882666230/
Save A Life Today-SALT:Www.saltkc.com/
Zero Suicide Kern: https://www.facebook.com/zerosuicidekern/