So far this year, 18 Georgia children and teenagers have taken their own lives, a pace that is comparable to last year, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
“What it tells me is I don’t know if we’re making any progress in preventing teen suicides,” GBI Director Vernon Keenan said Thursday.
According to the GBI, white teenagers accounted for most of Georgia’s juvenile suicides so far this year — four girls 15 to 17 years old and eight boys. One of the 13 teens in that age group was an African-American girl.
Six children who were 10 to 14 years old killed themselves this year.
Ten children died by hanging, seven by gunshot, and one was categorized as “other.”
Last year, 43 children, one as young as 9, killed themselves. But that number could change because local Child Fatality Review Panels are still examining their cases. In 2016 and 2015, the state had a record 51 juvenile suicides.
Keenan said there had been 212 child suicides just in the past five years.
“The people who have to weigh in and help on this are the educators and the schools systems who can help steer students into counseling,” Keenan said.
The GBI and Voices for Georgia’s Children have released a youth suicide prevention public service announcement to raise awareness, he said.
“The problem is the media does not want to talk about this,” Keenan said. “They don’t want to highlight child suicide.”
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