Reflections on adolescent pain: "The basic prevention measure against suicide is to protect children and this is everyone’s responsibility"

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12 years ago, Michael Guerrero discovered the harshness of reality suicide in the mental health program in the ER of the Costa del Sol Hospital. He began to work in that area and was shocked to see that more than half of the people who were waiting for urgent health care had thought about or tried to take their own life and the vast majority “were dealing with everyday situations” such as that anyone can have in their day to day.

He was then aware of “the poor or non-existent care that was being given in the public system” to these patients and set himself the challenge of launching a local plan for prevention and intervention in suicidal behavior that materialized in 2017 in the creation of the Cicero unit, the only one that exists today in Andalusia. Two years later, in March 2019, the ISNISS another pioneering project by psychologists Luis Fernando Lopez Martinez y Eva M. Carretero Garcíaalso aimed at avoiding self-destructive behaviors and investigating how digital environments could influence them, especially in the youngest.

Jose Antonio Luengo He has been working for years on the front line in educational centers and in the development of training programs and plans for teachers and families in the always complex process of understanding adolescent pain and knowing how to accompany them in their emotional distress. As dean of the Official College of Psychology of Madrid, he currently coordinates in the Community of Madrid the PsiCE project to improve the detection and intervention in the classroom of situations of emotional crisis and imbalances and psychological disorders.

Guerrero, López Martínez and Luengo create spaces to help girls and boys to combat suffering and at the same time carry out important outreach work under the conviction that preventing deaths by suicide involves raising awareness and involving all areas of society to “network” in child protection. We spoke to these experts about the rise in emotional distress among adolescents and their possible outlets. The figures, the pain, presses: the number of people under 20 who took their own lives in 2022 was 84nine more than the previous year, according to provisional data from the INE.

Based on his experience and the latest research, Miguel Guerrero explains that the mental health of the youngest was already deteriorating before the pandemic but that it “has uncovered”. He assures that they have significantly increased the non-suicidal self harm [lesiones que se autoinfligen intencionalmente en el cuerpo que suelen producir sangrado, hematoma o dolor donde no hay una finalidad de querer matarse sino aliviar un sentimiento o estado cognitivo negativo] and hospitalizations for eating disorders, drug use, behavioral disturbances, and suicidal ideation, but fortunately this has not resulted significantly, in a higher number of suicide attempts. Young people between the ages of 12 and 29 who go to mental health have increased by 30%, but it cannot be ruled out that “more help is now being requested.” Yes, there has been a worsening of boys and girls who had a previous disorder.

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