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The Great Smoky Mountain Journal

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Posted: Sunday, January 21, 2018 11:20 AM

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REPORT: Suicide Rates For Teenagers Rising Across Nation, Including Tennessee; 1000 Teens AnnuallyTake Lives In State

 Numbers from the National Center for Health Statistics show suicide rates among teens are rising across the nation, including here in Tennessee.

The rate had been on a downward trend since the early 1990s.

About 1,000 Tennesseans take their own lives each year, about three a day.

The Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network has been combating it for years, but the rate among teens in the state has gone up since 2013.

"One death is one death too many," said Scott Ridgway, executive director of the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network.

Ridgeway has been helping people deal with suicidal thoughts.

"When that child is in crisis, and families are aware of that child in crisis, we need to be able to educate those families," said Ridgway.

He says education about suicide is key, especially in light of alarming new numbers from the National Center for Health Statistics.

MORE: Fulmer speaks to Knox County teachers about suicide prevention

The study shows the suicide rate among teenage girls continues to rise, hitting a 40-year high in 2015.

In Tennessee, Ridgway has seen the same increase. he says it's because the way the suicide is committed is changing.

"The increase is because females are using much more lethal means. So instead of an overdose or hanging, they are using firearms," said Ridgway.

Ridgway said social media creates a place where people can be bullied much more easily.

"Our young people are being much more exposed through social media more than they ever have, so making sure we're following those young folks," said Ridgway.

Experts say people in crisis often give warning signs like distinct changes in behavior, withdrawal from activities and isolation from friends and family.

"They do need to see some type of clinical, someone to help them get out of that depression, and so making sure young people seek assistance, find resources, be able to use the crisis text line, 741-741TN," Ridgway said.

Ridgway said the internet has changed suicidal situations.

People can find different ways to commit suicide online, which is easier to do than ever before.

For more information about the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network, head to its website.