19 May Teens and suicide: understanding the problem
Unfortunately, teen suicide is a very real problem. The numbers are staggering (meaning astonishing), so take a deep breath, this can be difficult to read…
Suicide is the third leading cause of death in 15 to 24 year olds, and the third leading cause of death in 10 to 14 year olds. Many more teens actually attempt suicide and then survive: According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), there are 25 attempted suicides to one completed suicide. Furthermore nearly 15% of teens in high school consider suicide. That’s 15% too much.
These numbers help us to both understand the scope of the problem and to realize that many people that you know may be struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts. If you are one of those people struggling with suicidal thoughts, you are not alone. Suicidal ideation (thinking about suicide) is a very real thing for far too many teens.
What leads a teen to suicide? Well, many many factors can play into it although all of them stem from a weakened or damaged sense of self. The strongest risk factors for attempted suicide in youth are depression, substance abuse and aggressive or disruptive behaviors, as well as a history of poor-decision making.
Overall, teens commit suicide for a variety of reasons. For teens, two common reasons are:
- they don’t feel good about themselves, and
- they feel a sense of hopelessness: that life will never change.
The first reason has to do with the self – who you are. People commit suicide because they don’t feel good about themselves. Since the teen years are all about discovering who you are (your self) it can be risky if those feelings about your self turn negative.
The second reason also involves the self – that feeling of hopelessness. Feelings stem from the self. When your self feels like it has options, you have hope. When the self feels trapped and destined to feel a certain way, hopelessness occurs.
This is why discovering your self and managing your self and expressing your self are so darn important!!
Chemical changes and life events
The teen years are tough!! You are going through tremendous hormonal changes. Hormones regulate moods and many bodily processes. And sometimes those hormonal swings can make you feel out of control, moody, frustrated… feelings that tend to decrease how good you feel about your self and increase your feelings of being out of control.
Your body is changing, social lives are shifting, you hear “Get good grades!” “Clean your room!” “Be nice!” and (BOOM!) stress enters your world. Negative thoughts can surface and begin to control your every move. With your brain going through huge changes right now, sometimes you don’t know which direction to take. Then there’s divorce, death of a loved one, a break up, a put down, an embarrassing event, a text, a move, a tragic event, media influences that tell you to be smart, pretty and skinny, and all of a sudden some teens can feel pushed beyond their limits.
With all this stuff going on during the teen years, suicide can, for some, become a consideration because they see suicide as a way out, a solution to all their difficult problems and feelings.
However, suicide is never a positive solution for teens. It feels like a solution for some at times because life can feel daunting (meaning overwhelming). But those times will pass and with help, teens can get through rough times and move into a space that feels manageable and, quite possibly, hopeful. When overwhelmed by life’s events people can forget that life is full of endless possibilities and many of those possibilities are wonderful. The solution lies in building the self to manage the thoughts and feelings that lead to the idea of suicide.
Moreover, suicide is ALWAYS devastating to those around them (no matter what the teen may think) and it is ALWAYS a huge loss of potential. Everyone has their gifts – some just haven’t unwrapped theirs yet. Suicide leaves a gift forever lost.
What did you think when you read the last paragraph? Did you agree or disagree?