We’ve seen multiple threats of violence by young men in our community recently and it makes us wonder. Do you know the warning signs of mental illness to look for in your children?
With the recent threats of violence from both a CMU student and a Central High School student, people are concerned about safety at schools. But experts say there are red flags that everyone can look out for.
"Any drastic change in behavior with a teen is of concern. So again, anything around major changes in friends, activities, interests, level of involvement in the school or community of friends, or even at home. Their level of whether their talking to their parents or not", says Michelle Hoy, Regional Director of Colorado West Regional Mental Health.
Experts say that having an open dialogue with your kids can help detect signs of anger, depression, and anxiety.
"Really, all of the research and all of the experts would say that if you're concerned about someone and their risk for violence, you should ask them if they're intending to hurt someone or themselves", explains Hoy.
Local pediatrician Dr. Mike Whistler agrees and says that for teens, the stress builds up during a difficult time in life.
"Being a teenager is a difficult time for anybody. There’s a lot of things to adjust to. Adjusting to turning into an adult, adjusting with those wild hormones that are coursing through your body. And I think it's a time when a lot of kids have a lot of emotional adjustments as well. Certainly we see teenagers who may get threatening or violent", says Whistler.
We talked with some local parents on recognizing the warning signs, and they say they know what to look for.
"I would. You know, usually kids are pretty good about acting out when they are stressed out or whatever it may be. I think a lot of it is depending on the parents to recognize what's going on with their kids", says Caleb VanLandingham, a parent from De Beque.
All of the counselors and doctors we talked to today did agree. If you do think someone is planning on hurting themselves or others, you should err on the side of caution and tell an adult or contact authorities.