This is a tough subject to write about. Teens and Suicide are two words that should never be in a sentence together. Throughout the ages, suicide has been considered an “out” for people who no longer want to live, for whatever reason. But, when you hear of a teenager committing suicide? This is devastating. They have their lives in front of them and the world at their feet begging to be a part of their future. When I was younger, I would think, “Why would they want to kill themselves? They have no responsibilities. They’re teens, they haven’t had the chance to really live yet.”
Although I will admit, I feel like a hypocrite saying that. When I was a teen, I considered suicide. For about five minutes. Sometimes, people don’t want to be where they are in life, and I get that. My family didn’t have money. I didn’t like the clothing I had to buy because it was all we could afford. And the shoes? No name brands that landed me the nickname of Bobo. I pretended at school that it didn’t bother me, but it did. Laugh with everyone else when someone called me that. I would cry at night when I was home and getting ready for bed but damned if I’d let anyone at school see me cry. It’s small, inconsequential things like this, that puts the two words, teens and suicide together.
(Side note: Even now, this is a touchy subject when my son tells me he needs shoes. That he doesn’t have a good pair. I want to go buy them all up for him!)
As a teenager, while not as bad as being a toddler, you don’t always look too far into the future and see that things will get better. As teens, we are more reactionary to the environment around us at that time and short term future thoughts. Even when I did consider suicide as a teen, I wish I could say that the thought of what my family would go through stopped me. But it was fear. Fear of the unknown. Not knowing what would happen after I died stopped me from taking my life. As I grew older and wiser, I don’t think I was ever so proud of my fear of the unknown as I was then.
According to suicidology.org, there are warning signs of suicide that we should know. Even though it’s talked about at school, parents need to also not be afraid to discuss this at home. If you notice your child shows some of these signs, talk to them and if needed, get them to counseling immediately. There is nothing wrong with a helping hand.
With the upswing in teens and suicide, they are also talking to their friends more. They are sharing statuses on social media with trigger words that indicate suicidal feelings. How sad they are with things going on in their lives. Even anger and resentment of feelings they have. Friends, you need to not be afraid to speak up to help stop your friend. Or talk to an adult so they can step in. Do NOT be like these two friends who 1 – helped their friend commit suicide. Even going as far as being excited about it because it is “like getting away with murder” or 2 – encouraged their friend in their suicidal feelings. Doing this is not being a friend. There are times to be encouraging, and times to come forward and tell your friend when something is not a good idea. And suicide is never a good idea.
The two links in the previous paragraph are what prompted this post. I truly don’t understand how a friend could help a friend take their lives. To encourage and even help buy the supplies needed to do this. I felt sick after reading the articles. My heart went out to the victims and their families. Yes, I consider them victims because they didn’t get help when they needed it. Some people are asking “Is it going too far to convict these “friends” for murder, involuntary manslaughter?” Absolutely not. It is not going too far. They were old enough to know the consequences of the actions their friends were taking. It’s not a cool thing to support someone in killing themselves.
So, if you know of someone who has heard a friend or even someone you’ve passed in the hallway or on the street express that they want to kill themselves, do not be afraid to step in. Be that person who reaches out and helps them. Here are some ways to help prevent this ever climbing trend of teens and suicide:
- Speak Up – Talk to your friend. Let them know they have much to live for and they can get help. If you’re not comfortable with that, talk to an adult. Get it out there that this teen is considering suicide.
- Be there – Become that friend the person can talk to outside of their psychiatrist and/or parents. No one else understands teens like other teens do! Casually follow up to make sure they’re following their treatment plan set in place. Ask questions so you can help make sure they stay on track.
- Don’t wait – Waiting for someone who may be depressed to ask you to go out and do something is like waiting for rain in the desert. It most likely won’t happen. Call them. Ask them out to dinner or a movie. Have them join you and other friends for a hike or bicycle ride.
- Encourage them – Be that positive force in their lives. Encourage them to make healthier choices in their lifestyle. Better eating habits, exercise, join clubs. Being active releases endorphins. Endorphins are like a “happy pill”. I was diagnosed with situational depression in my twenties and the doctor gave me Prozac. I got home and threw those pills away. Jogging became a daily occurrence. I do NOT recommend doing this. I probably shouldn’t have done it. But I was lucky. It worked for me.
- Continued Support – Even after the immediate risk is gone, still be there. Stay in contact with them. Call and say hi and see how they are doing. This may seem like a lot to put on someone. Like they are the ones responsible for this person’s recovery. But that’s not it at all. Helping someone stay on track is not a full-time job. And being that person someone can count on when needed is a great thing. It shows the character you exhibit and the type of person you are.
Teenage suicide is a serious and growing problem. The teenage years can be especially turbulent and stressful. Teenagers face pressures to fit in. They may struggle with self-esteem issues, self-doubt, and feelings of alienation. For some, this leads to suicide. Depression is also a major risk factor for teen suicide. However, in this age, with social media, teens and suicide are rampant. Consequently, if they are bullied at school, this issue no longer has boundaries. The world is a smaller place with social media. Bullying is no longer just at school. It can happen online with people they don’t even know.