Teenage Suicide

When we judge by the statistics, it is estimated that about 100,000 people kill themselves a year in the USA. Of this number only 30,000 are reported as suicides. Of these 30,000 people, 2000 are in their teenage years.
First, the most important fact of suicide: Even if a person does die by suicide, that doesn't mean he chose it. If he knew he could have his life back without so much pain, he would choose life. Suicide victims are not trying to end their life; they are trying to end the pain.
Number one cause of suicide is depression. Depression is not the same thing as the "blues". The blues are normal feelings. Blues pass in a short time, say a couple of weeks. Depression lingers on or comes to pester a person over and over again carrying death.

Depression is a whole body disease affecting thoughts, feelings, behavior, physical health, appearance, and all areas of a person's home, work, school and social life. Yet, depression can be treated successfully just like other illnesses such as diabetes, pneumonia, ulcers, etc. Depression is an illness that surfaces when triggered by a complex combination of genetic, psychological and environmental factors. For its treatment, therapy and very often medication are needed.
Anyone can get depression at any age. If someone is suffering from depression, he is not weak or crazy; although, he may feel like he is going crazy. He does not have a character flaw. Having depression is not his fault. When a person has depression, he cannot talk or think himself out of it.
Homeless Aidan, taken over by depression, cont...Image via WikipediaSometimes people who are severely depressed and contemplating suicide don't have enough energy to carry it out. As the disease begins to ease up, they may regain some of their energy, but may still have feelings of hopelessness, even though in the outside, they may seem to be calmer. At this time, they may try to kill themselves because they feel they just can't fight it anymore.
If you feel a teen is thinking of suicide, the first thing to do is to be direct. Ask them straight out if they want to kill themselves. They may answer you with a joke, but make sure that they understand you are serious and that they answer you seriously.
Emergency measures if you feel that a person is about to kill himself:
Do not leave the person alone unless you are in danger yourself. Studies show that most people will not harm themselves when they are with someone.
Listen to what the person says. What might seem trivial to you can be overwhelming to the person in pain.
Be the link to get help.
If you're a teen yourself call your parents, their parents, another trusted adult, or better yet 911.
If you are an adult, call the parents or any other help available.
For suicide to happen three conditions are necessary:
1. Intense and excruciating psychological pain
2. Wish to die being greater and more persistent than the will to live
3. An available self-injury method
Parents, family members, and friends should not panic, but they should be on the alert when they hear certain statements, especially when they are told in clusters, bits and pieces, and a little too often. These following statements may be the indication of depression as a disease:
"I feel guilty. I feel sad. I feel like crying a lot. I feel so alone. I feel so helpless.
I don't have fun anymore. Sometimes I feel I can't go on living. I don't want to go out with friends anymore. I feel "different" from everyone else.
I don't really feel sad, just "empty". I feel like I'm in a fog.
I don't have any confidence in myself. I don't like myself.
I smile, but inside, I'm miserable.
I feel scared a lot of the time, but I don't know why.
I feel mad a lot, like I could just explode. I'm always getting into trouble. Sometimes I do things that are dangerous or that could hurt me. I use alcohol or drugs to escape or to mask feelings.
I don't feel like talking--I just don't have anything to say.
I'm so restless and jittery. I just can't sit still.
I can't concentrate. I have a hard time remembering. I can't think straight. My brain doesn't seem to "work".
I feel so disorganized, like my head is spinning.
I feel so self-conscious. I don't want to make decisions; it's too much work.
I'm so tired, no matter how much sleep I get. I don't feel like taking care of my appearance or myself. My whole body feels slowed down; my speech, my walk, my movements.
Occasionally, my heart will pound very hard; I can't catch my breath; I feel tingly; my vision seems strange; and I feel like I might pass out. This passes in seconds, but I'm afraid it will happen again. (This statement points to panic attacks.)
I'm frustrated with everything and everybody. I feel my life has no direction.
I have trouble falling asleep or wake up in the middle of the night and can't get back to sleep.
I don't feel like eating anymore. I feel I could eat all the time. I've gained or lost a significant amount of weight.
I have headaches, stomachaches, backaches, and/or pain in my arms and legs. I feel dizzy a lot.
My vision seems blurred or slow at times. Nothing I do makes me feel better."
Signs of Trouble:
Abrupt changes in personality
Giving away possessions
Previous suicide attempt
Use of drugs and/or alcohol
Change in eating pattern - significant weight loss or gain
Change in sleeping pattern - insomnia or oversleeping
Unwillingness or inability to communicate
Extreme or extended boredom
Being careless and accident prone
Unusual sadness, discouragement or loneliness.
Talk of wanting to die - the words mostly used are: ending it all, end, finish, stop
Neglect of academic work and/or personal appearance
Family disruptions - divorce, trauma, losing loved one
Running away from home or truancy from school
Rebelliousness - reckless behavior
Withdrawal from people/activities they love
Confusion - inability to concentrate
Chronic pain, panic or anxiety
Perfectionism or restlessness
Life Events That Could Trigger Suicide:
Major loss...of a loved one
Other major losses like a home, car, pet, prized possession
A trauma, or loss of a relationship
Divorce in the family
Problems with school or the law
Breakup of a romance
Unexpected pregnancy
A stressful family life (Having abusive parents, parents who are depressed or are substance abusers, or a family history of suicide)
Loss of security or fear of authority, peers, group or gang members
Stress due to new situations; college or relocating to a new community
Failing in school or failing to pass an important test
A serious illness or injury to oneself
Seriously injuring another person or causing another person's death, maybe in a car accident
The following are the guidelines given by the Yellow Ribbon organization.
To Help a Suicidal Teenager:
Deal with your own feelings first. The idea of young people wanting to kill themselves is difficult for adults to grasp. The first reaction is often shock or denial. Trust your feelings when you think someone may be suicidal. A second reaction might be efforts to argue, minimize, to discount the young person's feelings of despair. Remember that most young people who contemplate or attempt suicide are not intent on dying. Rather, at the moment, the pain of living is more unbearable than the fear of dying.
1. Listen, don't lecture. What the young person really needs in this crisis period is someone who will listen to what is being said. Try to understand from the teenager's viewpoint.
2. Accept what is said and treat it seriously. Do not judge. Do not offer platitudes.
3. Ask directly if the individual is thinking of suicide. If the teenager has not been thinking of suicide, he or she will tell you. If the young person has been thinking of it, your asking allows the opportunity to bring it out in the open. Isolation and the feeling that there is no one to talk to compounds suicidal thinking. You will not cause someone to commit suicide by asking them if they are suicidal.
4. Talk openly and freely and try to determine whether the person has a plan for suicide. The more detailed the plan, the greater the risk.
5. Try to focus on the problem. Point out that depression causes people to see only the negatives in their lives and to be temporarily unable to see the positives. Elicit from the person's past and present positive aspects which are being ignored.
6. Help the young person to increase his/her perception of alternatives to suicide. Look at what the young person hopes to accomplish by suicide and generate alternative ways to reaching the same goals. Help determine what needs to be done or changed.
7. Help the person recall how they used to cope. Get the person to talk about a past problem and how it was resolved. What coping skills did he or she use?
8. Evaluate the resources available and help identify the resources needed to improve things. The individual may have both inner psychological resources and outer resources in the community that can be strengthened. If they are absent the problem is much more serious. Your continuing observation and support are vital.
9. Do not be misled by the teenager's comments that he/she is past the emotional crisis. The person might feel initial relief after talking of suicide, but the same thinking could recur later.
10. Act respectfully. Do arrange with the person to be back in contact within a few hours. Offer yourself as a caring and concerned listener until professional assistance has been obtained.
11. Do not avoid asking for assistance and consultation. Call upon whomever is needed, depending upon the severity of the case. Do not try to handle everything alone. Go to the child's guidance counselor, principal, parents, minister, etc. Seek out referrals from hotlines, etc. Convey an attitude of firmness and composure so that the person will feel that something appropriate and realistic is being done.

Joy Cagil is an author on http://www.Writing.Com/. Her background is in foreign languages and linguistics. Her portfolio can be found at

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