COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - According to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, every seven seconds a child in Georgia dies by suicide. Throughout the month of September, law enforcement and partnering organizations are coming together to address the warning signs.
"We recently had a child to pass away here who was very popular and a member of their wrestling team," says GBI Special Agent in Charge Trebor Randle.
The Muscogee Coroner’s Office and New Horizons Behavioral Health say within the past five years there have been 145 total suicides, nine of whom were under the age of 17.
"The statistics are extremely high, not only in our area, but in the state of Georgia," says Muscogee County Deputy Coroner Elizabeth Allison.
New Horizons Behavioral Health is calling this startling statistic a crisis as numbers are increasing.
Officials say signs to look out for in teens and children are verbal cues of feeling like they are a burden, sudden changes in behavior and physical appearance, as well sleeping too much or too little.
"They become isolated, they become withdrawn. Some of the kids are abusing alcohol and drugs, not because they're acting out, but because they're trying to suppress that pain," says Randle.
In Georgia, suicide is the second leading cause of death for children between the ages of ten to seventeen. Organizers at New Horizons say there will be more events to tackle the issue in the coming days.
"The challenges are there, and we need to let them know you don't wake back up. You don't get to walk away after you've done something to end your life," says Joyce Dent-Fitzpatrick with the CPD Special Victims Unit.
A Walk to End Suicide has been scheduled for September 28th at Lakebottom Park at 10:00 a.m.