Community forum focuses on teen troubles

By Ryn Gargulinski: QCS

Teens are notoriously troubled — a fact easily backed by statistics from the Quay County Maternal Child and Community Health Council.

A 2003 survey of county high school students reported 32 percent were so sad and hopeless every day for a two-week period it affected their usual behavior. Nineteen percent said they had seriously considered suicide, 16 percent made a full-fledged suicide plan and 19 percent had actually attempted it. MCCH added 8 percent of those students were injured as a result of their suicide attempts.

MCCH Coordinator Alida Brown said she wants these teens to know they are not alone and MCCH is helping to promote several upcoming activities that prove people are available and willing to talk about their troubles.

“During the next two weeks (we hope) to help build awareness of depression and suicide risk in Quay County,” she said.

MCCH, the radio station and the community are sponsoring a community forum with a call-in radio program on KTNM-AM radio that will include local mental health providers, ministers, students and suicide survivors.

The call-in show will air at 7 p.m. on Jan. 12, but not without the generosity of everyone involved, Brown said.

“Dianne Paris (of KTNM) is providing the means to broadcast this call-in show at no cost to us. In fact, the council is getting all of this without cost — a tremendous show of community support on this very critical issue,” Brown said.

Other informational radio broadcasts include a Spanish show at 7 p.m. today and an English radio show at 7:30 a.m. on Thursday.

Also on the agenda are a series of television broadcasts of Not in My Family, a 40-minute documentary that revolves around the stories of four young people in New Mexico who are at various stages of their own mental illness that could lead to suicide, according to the New Mexico Department of Health. The shows will be aired Friday through Tuesday.

“The program will focus on mental illness and risk, especially for youth,” Brown said. “I understand that discussions will also include the impact of such illness on the family and the community.”

In addition to the mental anguish, nearly 10 percent of the state’s budget goes to supporting the burden of substance abuse, an average of $265 per person, MCCH reports, adding overall, untreated mental health and substance abuse disorders are estimated to cost businesses, taxpayers and families more than $3 billion annually.

The toll on lives is even higher, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

“More than 3,000 children and young adults, ages 10-24, take their own lives each year in this country,” department officials said in a release submitted to MCCH. “That’s the human loss equivalent, in children, of Sept. 11 repeating itself every year.”

Further statistics from the Center for Disease Control point out suicide is the second-leading cause of death among those aged 15-24. The CDC also reports New Mexico ranks third in the nation for suicide in all age groups and seventh for teen suicides and teen suicide has increased a whopping 200 percent since the 1960s.

What: Call-in radio program on KTNM AM
When: 7 p.m. on Jan. 12
Listeners can call: 461-0522 or 461-1400

What: Not in My Family television broadcasts
7 p.m. Friday on KNME 5 and KRWG 22
Noon Saturday on KOAT 7
3 p.m. Sunday on KOAT 7
11 a.m. Monday on KENW 3
10 p.m. Tuesday on KENW 3

What: Informational radio broadcasts on KTNM AM
When: 7 p.m. today (Spanish); 7:30 a.m. Thursday (English)