Making time to care

At least four teens have died as the result of drug overdose or suicide in Shelby County this year. Six committed suicide in the county in 2006.

Shelby County Coroner Diana Hawkins says suicide and/or drug overdose is on a fast track to become an epidemic and wants to do something about it.

She wants to tell teenagers, their parents and teachers about warning signs of suicide contemplation and drug dependency.

Hawkins has spoke at several county high schools and has written a column on the subject, which appeared in the Shelby County Reporter two weeks ago.

We want to commend Hawkins for taking the time from her busy schedule as a coroner and a mother to reach out to youths and their parents to help prevent these tragic losses of life.

Suicide is the third leading cause of death in youth, age 10-24, across the nation and second leading cause among college students according to the Suicide Prevention Action Network. It&8217;s essential that more individuals make time to care. Reaching out to troubled teens is a must if we are going to save them. We must know &8220;red flags&8221; and other warning signs of drug use or thoughts of suicide.

Some signs include quietness and being withdrawn. We must also be on the look out for sudden changes in behavior. Particulary dangerous times include a death in the teen&8217;s life, divorce or other change, such as enrolling in a new school.

As Hawkins says, young people are our future. We need them to take care of our world.

Hawkins is using her platform as coroner to help make a difference, but we all have just as easy a platform. We are all connected in some way to a youth. We hope that the parents and youth of Shelby County pay attention.

If we all paid a little more attention to those around us, who knows the lives that could be saved.