Children need to know they are not alone


Brandon Chambers was hurting, and had been for months. He and his family sought help and got it — from counseling to medication — and it still wasn’t enough to keep the Elizabethtown 14-year-old from taking his own life last month. His pain was deep and one afternoon, it became too much for him. He made an unfortunate and irreversible choice.

Some children hurt more than others and some children can’t hide the hurt. Others are masterful at it.

From self-harming themselves to easing the pain with illegal substances, children around the country are dealing with depression as they face challenges like never before.

And it’s happening more in Hardin County than most want to believe.

During a recent school year, Communicare alone had contact with an estimated 700 students in Hardin County Schools, Elizabethtown Independent Schools, Head Start and West Point Independent. There are many other agencies and professionals in Hardin County and they saw even more students.

Mental illness is not defined by age or gender or social status, or whether you’re an introvert, athlete or come from poverty or a well-to-do family. In 2019 more than ever, children are facing more life challenges than ever before.

If you think bullying doesn’t happen on social media, in our schools and at the mall, get your head out of the sand.

Mayberry is only a television rerun. It always was a myth and certainly doesn’t exist anymore.

Elementary-age children are in therapy, one school official said.

Kelly Fisher, who has been a guidance counselor in both Hardin County school districts, called mental health among youngsters “an epidemic.”

The first, and most important step into easing the epidemic — the second-leading cause of death in the United States among the 19 and younger age group — is to recognize the problem does exist. In Hardin County, two teen boys took their own lives in an eight-month stretch.

The stigma of mental health needs to be removed and viewed as a sickness. It’s a cancer of the mind.

There is help available in our community and there are plenty of areas to reach out, from school personnel to pastors to experts in the field of mental health. Find an understanding friend, and more importantly, be that understanding friend.

When Anita Chambers shared the story of her son a week ago today in a “Hidden Darkness” package on these news pages, she said her goal was to bring awareness to teen mental health and if telling her family’s story helped one person, it was worth it.

Being aware of warning signs such as having declining grades in school, risk-taking behaviors, behavioral problems and withdrawing from family and friends is important; addressing them is critical. Hearing a teen say, “I just want to die!’’ is not an emotional outburst that should be scoffed at as dramatic behavior.

There is a responsibility each of us has to help one another, friend or stranger.

As the signs that are scattered throughout this county say, “Just Be Kind.” We should for many, many reasons, among them we don’t know what challenges someone next to us is facing.

It’s imperative we reach out with a caring hand to let hurting children know they are not alone.


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