GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — People facing some of their darkest moments have placed more than 20 million calls to the suicide and crisis hotline since 2005.
In 2021, the number was the highest on record with over 2.5 million calls.
Many of those calls were placed by young men and women under 25, transitioning into adult life.
“It’s been a roller coaster. College is a different experience,” said Rey Leyva, a freshman and NC A&T State University.
Adapting to college life is showing some NC A&T freshmen how important mental health is.
“My friend’s mental health, my family’s mental health is important to me, so I try to check in on them every single day,” Talayeah Young said.
From the Triangle, where NC State University parents and students are calling for additional mental health resources following the death of four students, to the NC A&T campus where a 19-year-old student was lost on Friday, students are losing their peers.
Experts believe young people are struggling partly because of social media and courses focused on some difficult topics.
“What do they study in college? They study about climate change. They study about school shootings. They study about poverty. They study about racial protests. It can all feel very cramped, frustrating and urgent,” said Ashish George with the North Carolina chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services keeps track of self-inflicted injuries across the state.
Young people between the ages of 10 to 18 and 19 to 24 consistently have the highest rate of self-inflicted injuries.
Among those groups, young women were more likely to harm themselves.
“We’re not offering structure and routine and a sense of purpose for many young people. We’re leaving them to their own devices,” George said.
The situation is so urgent, the head of the counseling department at Winston-Salem State University canceled our interview because a student was dealing with a mental health crisis.
WSSU started offering more counseling opportunities for students inside the dorms and designated two mental health days a year.
Advocates worry that without more widespread funding, it might not be enough.
“I’ve even heard cases of people exaggerating their mental health problems on purpose because they have milder issues, and they wouldn’t be able to see a therapist or counselor unless they said…’I’m suicidal’ or things like that,” George said.