Willowbrooke at Tanner Holds Discussion on Teen Suicide Prevention

Behavioral health experts in the community are reaching out to parents, educators and teens following the popularity of a recent Netflix series that has sparked concerns about adolescent suicide and mental health issues.


Behavioral health specialists from Willowbrooke at Tanner led a panel discussion Thursday evening to address mental health and teen suicide prevention. The discussion helped the community to recognize and understand the warning signs of teen suicide.


About 200 teens, adults, educators and behavioral health specialists gathered at Tanner Medical Center/Carrollton for the event, “Recognizing the Warning Signs of Adolescent Suicide.”


“We held this event tonight to help increase awareness of adolescent suicide and provide a platform for the community to have an open conversation about what is widely considered a taboo subject,” said Deb Price, LPC, CPCS, program manager of community services at Willowbrooke at Tanner, who was among the four panelists for the discussion. “We want people to understand how prevalent mental health is in our community and help them understand the key signs and symptoms of mental health and suicide risk.”


Panelists also included Meagan Thompson, LPC, assistant director of Willowbrooke at Tanner; Amanda Avella, LPC, program manager at Willowbrooke at Tanner, and Brian Gibson, LPC, a primary therapist at Willowbrooke at Tanner.


The panelists took the stage to address the personal risk factors facing many of the community’s youth and to open the conversation to parents to discuss the importance of early intervention.


“This night has given us the opportunity to open the door to talk about suicide, which is often a subject that people don’t want to talk about,” said Thompson. “It is a conversation that we shouldn’t be afraid to have and it is important that we increase awareness among our teens as well as adults.”


The panelists’ presentation provided statistics on behavioral health and suicide prevalence in several local counties — including Carroll, Coweta, Douglas, Haralson, Heard, Paulding and Troup counties — as well as the impact it has had on the community and the barriers hindering the conversation between parents and their children on the subject.


“I have had friends who struggle with this issue and this discussion tonight helped me understand how to talk to them and understand what they are experiencing,” said Morgan Dykes, 16, who is a Douglas County High School student. “It helps that I can talk about these kinds of things with my parents. I think it is important that we all be well-informed about suicide and what we can do to help others struggling with it.”


Following the panel, behavioral health specialists opened the discussion to the audience with a question-and-answer segment, giving those in attendance an opportunity to address their concerns about parenting children who are struggling with mental health and how they can appropriately address the issue.


The Willowbrooke at Tanner panelists discussed the proliferation of technology and how social media has an effect on teens, advising parents to take an active approach and be involved in their children’s online activity.


“It’s really important for people to understand that they can talk about suicide and that help is available for anyone struggling with mental health,” said Price. “This is not a taboo subject. We need to have conversations like this. There are ways to get help, and there are resources and support available in your community. You don’t have to struggle in silence.”


The panelists also provided additional resources to help parents learn more about the series and the warning signs of adolescent suicide, including websites and help hotlines. Tanner has also put up a webpage to direct visitors to additional 24-hour resources, available at www.tanner.org/hotlinesandresources.


The full video of the presentation and discussion are available on Tanner’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/tannerhealthsys.


The discussion was part of Tanner’s Advancing Your Health Education Series, providing residents with access to free health information from the region’s leading health experts and covering a wide range of topics, including heart disease, orthopedics, women’s care and more. Other upcoming opportunities can be found in the Classes and Events calendar at www.tanner.org/calendar.  


For more information or to schedule a free and confidential mental health screening, call Willowbrooke at Tanner’s 24-hour help line at 770.812.9551. More information on Willowbrooke at Tanner is available at WillowbrookeAtTanner.org.