Georgia Tech leading fight against teen suicides

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It is an alarming number released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 4,600 children and young adults between 10 and 24 take their own lives each year.

As the suicide rate continues to rise, college students have banded together to combat factors that can cause depression and suicide. It's a particularly sensitive topic at Georgia Tech -- after multiple students took their lives in recent years.

The increase in the number of suicides isn't unique to Georgia. The suicide rate has increased by two percent every year in the U.S. for more than a decade. As a result, many field experts say mental health is one of the most pressing issues, specifically for teens.

"He died in our home. He took his life in his bedroom in the wee hours of the morning on October 15 which was Friday morning," said John Trautwein, President of Will to Live Foundation.

Since will Trautwein's death eight years ago, suicide rates have continued to climb in the U.S.  It is now the second leading cause of death among teens.

Communities across the country gripped by the issue including Georgia Tech after two students took their lives at the end of last year.

Now students are taking matters into their own hands, hosting the first ever Intercollegiate Mental Health Conference over the weekend, bringing together ten universities.

"Why don't we share what we've already done and sort of collaborate and coordinate on these efforts to barriers that exist on every college campus?" asked Collin Spencer, a third-year bio student and the conference’s manager.

Students and field experts discussed the complex constellation of factors that can cause depression and suicide but took aim at one in particular which has skyrocketed since 2012. Common Sense reporting, in 2018, 70 percent of teens visited social media platforms multiple times a day. But Dr. Nance Roy is optimistic about the power of peer-to-peer education.

"To be able to have a responsible discourse about how can we use social media for good with each other, the people who are using it and are in the weeds with it the most, is probably going to be the most effective," said Dr. Roy, Chief Clinical Officer at the Jed Foundation

"The college students of today are taking this under their own wing. Think of what that's going to do to the future when these kids become adults and become leaders in their community," said Trautwein.

With social media under a more critical eye, Facebook, which owns Instagram, announced changes to its policies to prevent self-harm. Starting in the next several weeks, users won't be able to post graphic cutting images anywhere to the social media sites.