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Experts say access to mental health resources should start early

The network says in 2017 the rate of suicide by children went up about 24 percent.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The newest numbers from the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network show the rate of suicide by children ages 10 to 17 has gone up. 

"This is not specific to Tennessee but this is a national issue," Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network Director Amy Dolinky said. 

She said as the times change, so do the barriers young people encounter and sometimes, that can make things difficult. 

"The experiences youth are having are very different to even one or two generations beyond that," she said. "We're trying to figure out what impacts young folks when we're losing so many people."

Learning about the impact is something Melissa Rose said is at the core of what she does. She's a family trauma specialist in Knoxville and part of her job is to help parents help their children.

"What we try to do is arm them with the tools they need to say how they feel," she said. "We're doing a better job of being aware but we are still way off."

Rose said the way you address mental health varies by age but it is nonetheless important.

"We know that little kids learn best through play, so we try to help them that way," Rose said. "But as they get older a lot of it is about trust and providing them with space to process how they feel."

Dolinky agrees. She said many people don't know where to start when it comes to helping young people and many end up relying on their friends.

"What we see is a lot of teens depending on other teens and that's hard because they are not equipped for trauma," she said. "But for adults, have the ability to sit down with someone and say it's okay, it's okay."

The Tennessee Suicide Network has a crisis line. For access to a trained crisis counselor, you can text "TN" to 741741.

RELATED: Mental Health Awareness: Suicide prevention resources

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