Mental health check: Polk County’s adolescents

The safety—physical, mental, and emotional safety—of our community’s children should be of the highest priority. Startling statistics have been released in a new report on Polk County’s Mental Health by Polk Vision–statistics of which every parent, teacher, tutor, and person who works with children should be aware of.

The findings suggest:

  • An average of 20% of Polk County school-aged children (including elementary) have seriously thought about killing themselves.
  • 11% of high school students admit they have attempted suicide.

  • Girls are twice as likely as boys to have “suicidal ideations”—thinking about, planning, or attempting suicide.
  • Approximately 2,000 of the 25,000 Polk County middle school students may have attempted suicide at least one time.

The report comes after a year-long study into the county’s struggles with the mental health system, including lack of funding.
The full report can be found at

Mother and daughter

What can parents do?

  • Communicate regularly with your child. Provide opportunities for conversations where ideas, feelings, and fears can be discussed.
  • Let your child know that he or she is loved and you can be trusted to provide help and support when needed.

  • Know your child’s friends and monitor activity on social media.
  • Seek out professionals. Trained and certified social workers are assigned to every school and are available for help and to provide access to resources.

Mother and son

For help or more information, contact Peace River Center
at 863-519-0575 (office) or 863-619-3744 (crisis line).

Note: Polk Vision is a community-led collaboration of organizations, businesses, government, and individuals to ensure the implementation of Polk County’s community vision. Advent Health, Bay Care, Central Florida Health Care, Lakeland Regional Health, and Polk County Health Department were also stakeholders in the study.