Mourners visit a memorial in front of Santa Fe High School on May 22, 2018 in Santa Fe, Texas. The makeshift memorial honors the victims of last Friday’s shooting when 17-year-old student Dimitrios Pagourtzis entered the school with a shotgun and a pistol and opened fire, killing 10 people. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

School shootings: Mental health symptoms parents can watch out for

In the wake of recent school shootings, parents should take the time to monitor their children for warning signs of mental illness, a local doctor said.

Dr. Gregory Ramey, vice president for outpatient services and child psychologist at Dayton Children’s Hospital, told Miami Valley’s Morning News on AM 1290 and 95.7 WHIO in an interview today that mood disorders such as depression are on the rise for young people. According to some studies, suicide attempts have nearly doubled over the past 10 years.

“Something strange, something odd, something serious is going on with our young people. It’s a matter that gives all of us grave concern,” Ramey said.

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Ramey said parents should watch children for changes in mood or behavior. Someone who’s depressed might suddenly be more irritable and have changes in eating and sleeping. In clinical depression, the changes in mood will be present over several weeks, not just a few days. If parents notice depression symptoms in their children, they should have them evaluated by their family doctor.

Children and young adults sometimes struggle more than older people with maintaining a sense of perspective, Ramey said. That makes them consider suicide or harming other people.

“When they feel that emotional pain, they think that what they’re feeling today is the way that they’re going to feel forever,” he said. “And what all adults know for sure is whatever’s going on today is going to pass. Kids and young adults don’t have that sense of perspective.”

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If someone other than the child’s parents notice a change in behavior, the child might respond well if that person reaches out to them directly.

“Most kids are very, very receptive to a message of caring and concern as opposed to ‘you’re misbehaving’ or ‘you’re acting like a jerk.’ When framed in that way I find kids are very responsive,” Ramey said.

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