Families learning to recognize signs of teen depression, risk of suicide

EDMONDS, Wash. -- Every week, two teenagers in our state commit suicide, according to the Crisis Clinic.

It’s a terrifying reality for both parents and their kids, but getting help navigating the difficult subject isn’t always easy.

Families in Snohomish County learned an important lesson Tuesday night and the push to expand a powerful resource for struggling teens.

A few dozen chairs line an unassuming room above the Edmonds Library where a difficult subject is being discussed. The warm hello is the easy part. It’s what’s said next that the people who’ve filled the seats have come to hear.

People like Elizabeth Vazquez.

“It’s happening with my daughter," she said. "She’s going through some kind of depression and we decided to get more information to see what we can learn from it, so that way I can help her and support her."

Edmonds Library hosted the forum on teen depression and suicide and a team of panelists talked to parents about warning signs, coping mechanisms and community resources.

“We are the only teen line currently in the state of Washington,” says Dipti Chrasktka, clinical director of the Crisis Clinic, which oversees Teen Link, a crisis hotline for teenagers.

Q13 News showed you who’s on the other end of that line at Teen Link’s phone center last June in north Seattle, where under the supervision of trained adults, teens answer the phones and provide resources for their peers.

Dipti says it’s important that parents are dialed in on the subject, too.

“Teen depression is so misunderstood. It’s such a big stigma and also people don’t really want to talk about it, it’s taboo,” says Dipti.

She says there’s hope to maybe one day expand this teen hotline operation beyond Seattle to other parts of our area, like Snohomish and Pierce counties.

Just last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in the last decade that suicide rates jumped 70 percent among white youths ages 10 to 17. And it’s up 77 percent among black teens in the same age group.

If prevention is key, Dipti says it’s these simple community conversations that can begin to unlock the fear.

You can find more information on Teen Link and their resources here.