North Shore teens in crisis

With the number of teens visiting Lions Gate ER for mental health problems doubling in three years, youth advocates are calling for more services.

ImageDan’s 15-year-old daughter began wearing long-sleeve shirts after she started cutting herself.

Bullies at her high school on the North Shore were relentless, taunting her online, calling her names and physically hurting her.

She spiraled into depression and, not seeing a way out, soon became suicidal.

One particularly bad evening she wound up in Lions Gate ER suffering from extreme anxiety. She waited eight hours to be admitted, says her father, was given Ativan to calm her down and eventually transferred to BC Children’s Hospital for treatment.

After spending three days at the hospital, the diagnosis: Post traumatic stress.

“We wanted to stay away from pills but eventually we had to go there,” Dan tells The Outlook, visibly concerned for his teenage daughter.

Despite several school programs on the North Shore that help with depression, anxiety and other mental health issues, the family decided home schooling was the best option.

While the circumstances vary greatly, cases of teens in crisis have been steadily increasing on the North Shore.

Over a three-year period in 2010, 2011 and 2012, Lions Gate emergency room visits for depression, suicidal thoughts and self-harm have more than doubled for teens.

Noticing an increase in youth mental health problems, Dr. Tom Barnett, a psychiatrist on the North Shore, commissioned a report to show the exact numbers.

In line with his prediction, ER visits have shot up in recent years.

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