JOPLIN, Mo. — Having a developmental disorder presents a lot of challenges, not just while growing up — but into adulthood.
And those issues put people living with them at a much greater risk for suicide.
Finding professional support can not only improve their life — it can save it.
A developmental disorder includes a cognitive, emotional or physical impairment.
That can include depression, ADHD, autism, speech impairments or substance abuse issues.
Children who have these conditions typically inherit them — and often have more than just one.
Sarah Willoughby, Will’s Place Therapist, Social Worker, said, “They inherited anxiety, depression, trauma. They were often abused.”
Their disorders often start to impact their mental health in grade school.
“Then they start to be teased, they can’t communicate with other children… they often feel frustrated and isolated.”
Then as a middle or high schooler — teasing becomes bullying, rejection becomes stronger, and this is often when they have their first psychiatric episode or hospitalization.
“And that is devastating. They lose out on school time. They get behind academically. They start to feel overwhelmed and frustrated even more. And their families often give up too.”
All these factors can put them in a dangerous mental state.
“Having a developmental disability does put you at a higher risk of suicide.”
If you notice someone isn’t acting the same: They’re losing friends or isolating themselves, they don’t have interest in things they once enjoyed — Willoughby says you should never hesitate to ask them if they’re considering suicide.
And more so, listen to what they have to say.
“A lot of people who die by suicide have kind of told someone, and people didn’t listen or people miss the signs.”
There are a lot of support groups in southwest Missouri, many of which are specific to certain issues.
“Support normalizes these fears, it helps people to develop coping skills, relaxation skills, it gives them hope that they’re not alone.”
The Ozark Center offers group, individual and family therapy as well.
They can also connect you to resources to become independent and learn your own strengths.
“It might be housing programs, it might be budgeting, learning budgeting. Vocational rehab, assist with determining where your job skills are.”
If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health and needs someone to talk to, we urge you to call the suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-talk.
We also have more resources for you on four states home page dot com — just click on the news tab and then the suicide crisis link.