MIAMI (CBSMiami) – With suicide now the second leading cause of death for teenagers, the American Academy of Pediatrics has issued new guidelines so doctors can help identify patients at risk.
Tessa is a volunteer counselor at Crisis Text Line (CTL).
She answers texts from teens who are often struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts.
“It can be something like, ‘I want to die.’ It can be that simple,” she explained.
She’s one of 1,500 counselors at the 24/7 support hotline .
“It’s definitely hard for these kids when they don’t feel like they have anyone to turn to,” Tessa said.
Suicide has risen to the second leading cause of death for adolescents.
Now the American Academy of Pediatrics is urging doctors to screen patients for suicidal thoughts and risk factors, including family history of suicide, mood disorders, questioning sexual orientation and history of physical or sexual abuse.
“We can catch these kids before they do something tragic to themselves,” said Dr. Cora Breuner, a pediatrician at Seattle Children’s Hospital.
Too much time on the internet is also linked to depression and suicidal thoughts. Experts say pediatricians should ask if teens have been bullied online or face to face.
“There is definitely a higher incidence in kids who think about hurting themselves or even completing a suicide and those who have been bullied,” Breuner said.
Crisis Text Line is reaching teens all across the country.
“When you’re actually able to save a life, what’s that like?” CBS News correspondent Kenneth Craig asked Tessa.
“Honestly, it’s the most satisfying experience I’ve ever had,” she responded.
In the last three years, the hotline has exchanged 19 million messages.
CTL says 80 percent of its clients are under age 25.
CLICK HERE for more information on Crisis Text Line.