Suits: You should be shocked about the increase in youth drug deaths

Jun 5, 2022, 7:50 AM
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(Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
(Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

The nation grapples with an increase in substance misuse and suicide death rates.

Approximately 187,000 people died from combined deaths from drugs, alcohol, and suicide in 2020, a 20 percent increase in one year, according to a recent study by Trust for America’s Health.

“First of all, if you’re shocked, you’re correct. That’s the correct answer there,” KTTH host Bryan Suits said.

“In many cases, the kids are not killing themselves, but they’re getting poisoned. They’re overdosing and that should be shocking enough.”

The drug-related death rate increased by 30 percent, primarily driven by use of opioids and psychostimulants, particularly among youths and young adults in the south and west regions of the country, the study said.

“Whether it was being disconnected from school and doing remote learning … or having other issues in the family such as dealing with food insecurity or housing insecurity, couple all of that with the rising rates of turning to potentially drugs or alcohol to be able to cope and not having other coping mechanisms,” J. Nadine Garcia, president and CEO of Trust for America’s Health, said.

And while the overall suicide death rate declined, it was higher among Indian, Black, and Latino youth.

“Everyone knows that clinical depression has spiked with our kids, but no one is admitting that this is a self-inflicted wound,” Suits said.

The report suggested investing in programs that promote health and prevent substance misuse and suicide and transforming the mental health prevention system as ways to reverse the deaths of despair crisis.

“Actually developing and training in social and emotional learning in schools and providing greater resources to schools to be able to provide those services,” Garcia said.

Parents are also encouraged to continue developing a close relationship with their children.

“I’m a big believer that as a parent, one of the things you can do to get out in front of this, as your kids grow up, is to instill in your kids, an iron clad identity that can withstand the greatest pressure from the outside,” producer Greg Tomlin said.

“If a person is truly secure in who they are, if they know — in our family — that they’re designed for a purpose and have infinite value, I think that is young people’s best fighting chance to avoid a death of despair.”

Listen to the Bryan Suits Show weekday mornings from 6–9 a.m. on KTTH 770 AM (HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here.

Bryan Suits

KTTH staff

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Suits: You should be shocked about the increase in youth drug deaths