The Center for Disease Control reports that rates of suicide have increased by 50% for young people ages 10 – 24 years old; for Black adolescents, the rates are particularly alarming – a 75% increase between 1991 and 2017.
Quarantine has increased anxiety and depression in many young people across the board. However, if you identify as LGBTQ+, being cut off from support networks, like friends and GSAs, and possibly living in non-affirming spaces, may make these intense emotions even worse. While it may feel like it, you are not alone.
True confession… I binge-watched the entire Netflix series titled “13 Reasons Why!” My initial reaction was that it was a show that covered truisms that many adolescents face in today’s world (bullying, sexual assault, sexual harassment, isolation, drunk driving, parent-teen communication issues). The characters were well developed and, while often graphic and painful to watch, I thought it did a good job of addressing some pretty dicey subject matter. But after processing the series more with colleagues, I began to have concerns about some of the missed opportunities to more transparently shed light on the theme of mental illness; something that impacts one in five teens in our society today. While we occasionally see Hannah and Clay (two of the main characters), sitting alone in the lunchroom or apparently feeling invisible in classroom scenes, the only references to mental illness are within Clay’s family scenes, when mom identifies that perhaps he might want to return to therapy or re-start some medication; she’s concerned about him.