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DES MOINES, Iowa — Polk County has seen an increase in suicides among young people, according to the nonprofit MindSpring Mental Health Alliance.

In December 2021, a young person under 12 years old died by suicide, according to Polk County Health Services. Since the start of January, three kids under the age of 13 years old and one 17-year-old died by suicide.

Bryan Hall, the clinical director at Clive Behavioral Health, believes social pressures could be leading to some young people harming themselves.

“I think that we’ve got a lot of stress, increasing pressures, demands from families and from schools. We have lingering effects of a pandemic that won’t give up. And we’ve got young people especially who feel a sense of disconnect,” Hall said.

Hall also said if a young person is having a tough time, they may withdraw from activities or seek solitude. Hall says parents should talk to them if they notice odd behavior from their child.

“Start a dialogue,” Hall said. “Start to instill a sense of hope, even though things are difficult right now in their lives, letting them know that there are ways of getting help.”

For help, people can reach out to community resources such as Your Life Iowa, a state resource, or Youth Mental Aid First.

You can also reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.