In Michigan, 17-year-olds are not allowed to buy lottery tickets, get a tattoo, rent a car or hotel room or drop out of school. They can’t vote, serve on a jury or sign a legal contract either, presumably because they don’t possess the requisite maturity to make adult-level decisions. This distinction, however, is tossed out the window if a 17-year-old breaks the law. Suddenly, they are adults, facing devastating repercussions that can come with an adult conviction.
My young parents didn’t have the skill sets to properly raise me, which at a young age caused me to search for acceptance in other places. I began running away at the age of 13 and quickly got heavily involved in drug use.
The family of 19-year-old Ashley Smith says guards watched and did nothing as the young woman strangled herself to death in an Ontario prison cell. Smith spent her teen years in and out of juvenile custody and, once in the adult system, had her mental illness answered by physical abuse, her family alleges in a legal battle to find out more about their daughter’s death. For youth incarcerated in the United States, the mental care they get — or don’t — varies. “In some places, all of this is really done quite well,” said Preston Elrod, a professor in the Department of Criminal Justice at Eastern Kentucky University and a juvenile justice specialist. “But in other places, none of it is done well.”
About 70 percent of young people who come into an institution have a diagnosable mental health disorder or symptoms of one, according to Gina Vincent, a psychiatry professor from the University of Massachusetts Medical School, in a 2012 report about screening and assessment in juvenile justice systems.
Rules vary by state, though in many places, children will not stay in the juvenile detention system, receiving what juvenile-tailored services exist, as long as Smith did: her 18th birthday.
Two days after receiving a life sentence without parole for the murder of a 7-year-old Canton, Ga. girl, Ryan Brunn apparently killed himself in his prison cell Thursday, according to the Georgia Department of Corrections. Brunn, an apartment groundskeeper, testified at a hearing Tuesday that he lured Jorelys Rivera to an empty apartment before molesting and killing her. Her body was found in a trash compactor three days after she went missing on December 2, 2011. DoC spokesperson Kirsten Stancil said Brunn was found unresponsive at 4:15 p.m. in his cell at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson.
Jaheem Herrera’s Suicide Inspired Lawmakers To Beef Up Georgia’s School Bullying Policies, His Mother Says She’s Still Fighting For Justice
It’s been two years since Masika Bermudez lost her only son Jaheem Herrera, but the heart-wrenching emotions are still raw as if he died yesterday. “It was like a bad dream, you know,” says the metro Atlanta mother, tears welling in her eyes. “You have your son there after school and in a blink of an eye, he’s not there anymore. The last thing I can remember about my son is with a big smile on his face when I was looking through his report card and then to see him lifeless afterwards. That’s the last image I have of my son every time I close my eyes.”
Jaheem was just 11-years-old when she found him hanged in a closet in their Decatur, Ga., apartment in April of 2009.
Three years ago my brother took his own life. For him it became the only option he could imagine that would end his depression. He left behind many grief-stricken friends, family and relatives who still struggle to understand. We’re far from alone in our grief. Tonight somewhere in America a mother buries her head in her pillow as she sobs out her grief to the heavens.
In a front page story, the New York Times explores the problem of bullying and a controversial school policy concerning sexual orientation in a school district in suburban Minneapolis. The piece details a long struggle between advocates for homosexual students and Christian conservatives over how sexual orientation should be taught in schools. It also reports on a lawsuit filed against the Anoka-Hennepin School District claiming, in part, that district policy requiring teachers to be “neutral” on the question of sexual orientation has helped to bring about a hostile environment for gay and lesbian students and therefore increasing the number of incidents of bullying. The suit was brought on behalf of the students by the Southern Poverty Law Center and the National Center for Lesbian Rights. News of the suit comes after reports that the Department of Justice is in the midst of a civil rights investigation of on-going harassment of gay and lesbian students in the the district of some 38,000.
The Rhode Island Youth Suicide Prevention Project (RIYSPP) will receive $480,000 to implement suicide prevention programs in select community organizations and public schools throughout the state, U.S. Sen. Jack Reed (D-Rhode Island) announced on Thursday. Suicide is believed to be the second leading cause of death among college students and third leading cause among youth age 10 to 24, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the Centers for Disease Control's 2009 Youth Risk Behavior Survey. “Many young people who commit suicide have a treatable mental illness, but they don't get the help they need,” Reed said in a press release. “This grant will provide critical resources for prevention and outreach efforts in Rhode Island to help reach at-risk youth before it is too late.”
The grant will provide the RIYSPP with necessary resources to screen, identify and refer at-risk youth, and launch a media campaign to help educate adults about warning signs and how best to respond. Currently RIYSPP operates in six communities throughout the state, but will soon provide technical assistance to the Rhode Island National Guard and state's Veterans ' Administration in an effort to reach military personal and their families.
Teenagers and college students live in tumultuous times. Physical changes, high school graduation, going off to college, moving away from the parents — all of these things can cause personality and mood changes in young adults. So how does one know the difference between “normal” bouts of depression, sadness and erratic behavior, and what could potentially be a red flag for suicidal tendencies? Every 15 minutes (about the amount of time that it takes to down a cup of coffee) one person will commit suicide, according to The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Many of these deaths could have been prevented by intervention from those close to the victims, but often the warning signs were ignored because the subject is awkward, according to Mary Ann Camann, PhD, an associate professor at the WellStar School of Nursing at Kennesaw State University near Atlanta.