Reducing Teenage Suicide
Did you know that suicide is the third leading cause of death for teenagers? With an average of 1,841 teens committing suicide each year (Parks 4). Nearly one in six high school students has seriously considered suicide, and one in twelve has attempted it, according to the semi-annual survey on youth risk behavior published on June 7th, 2012 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Neal). We could reduce the amount of teenage suicides, if we become more aware of the symptoms and warning signs leading up to it, educate the students more about it, and realize the effect of the media with teenage suicide.
It is important to educate everyone on teenage depression and how it can lead to suicide. Untreated depression is the leading cause of suicide. Some of the warning signs of depression are frequent bouts of sadness and crying, decreased interest in activities, inability to enjoy previously favorite activities, hopelessness, persistent boredom, low energy, social isolation, poor communication, low self-esteem, guilt, extreme sensitivity to rejection or failure, increased irritability, and anger (Smith, Melinda, Barston, and Segal). It is important for parents to be able to see these signs and talk to their kids about it. An important part in preventing teenage depression is to build multiple protective factors. A warm, open, and caring relationship between the parent and child will help prevent teenage depression. Feeling cared about by your family and friends and being accepted by your friends is linked to lower depression.
Everybody needs to know the warning signs of suicide. Once the depression becomes bad enough, suicide will start to become an option. Teens who are suicidal often undergo personality changes, withdraw from friends and family, lose interest in activities they enjoy, and make remarks about wanting to die. It is important for parents to be able to recognize these signs. Some may think that the child is doing it “just for the attention”, but you should never joke around with these signs. Some other signs and actions teens will do before suicide are writing songs, poems, or letters about death, separation, and loss. They will start giving away treasured possessions to siblings or friends, experience change in eating and sleeping habits, and engage in unusual risk-taking behaviors (Smith, Melinda, Barston, and Segal). The prevention for these signs is the same as the ones for depression. There is another option you can do for people who make it open about committing suicide, and that is suicide intervention. That is for the most extreme cases.
There needs to be more of an emphasis to educate the kids in school about this. They should not only be educated in the warning signs of suicide, but also the warning signs of depression. Which is arguably the more important part to stop, considering that is the root of the problem in most teenage suicide cases. They need to be educating kids better starting in middle school and going all the way up to high school. You can’t teach young Elementary School kids this because it might freak them out and some may start accusing kids of being depressed who aren’t. There must be more taught in the Health and Psychology curriculum of the high school. Kids need to be able to inform the counselor if they have any suspicion of classmates dealing with depression or suicidal thoughts. The counselor should be able to meet with every single student at least twice a year and ask them if they are concerned about anything. And finally, make sure the students know that the counselor always has an open door and is willing to talk with you. I know in some schools, the counselors stay in their office all day and rarely meetup to talk with kids.
The media has a great effect on teenage suicide. When kids see a big story on the news about someone killing themselves, they see the mass amount of attention they get. While hearing this news won’t affect most people, it will affect the kids who are on the borderline of taking their life away and will encourage them to do so. There is one example that proves this point pretty well, According to the New York Magazine article “A Dying Trend,” when Marilyn Monroe took her life in August 1962, the suicide rate in the following month rose by 12 percent, which was an additional 197 suicides (“Suicide and the Media”). If we stop showing suicide on television, there is a high chance that the number of suicides will go down.
We could reduce the amount of teenage suicides if we become more aware of the steps leading up to it. Being able to prevent depression is the first and most important part. Untreated depression leads to suicide. Then if kids get suicidal, we need to be able to see the warning signs and help them. And finally, we must put more of an emphasis to teach the students in school about it and we must stop showing it on tv. All of those little things will help save a life.
Faris, Stephanie. “Teenage Depression: Statistics, Treatments, Symptoms, & Diagnosis.” Teenage Depression: Treatment, Causes, Symptoms & More . N.p., 28 Mar. 2012. Web. 15 May 2014.
King, Keith, and Rebecca A. Vidourek. “Teen Depression and Suicide: Effective Prevention and Intervention…” Prevention Researcher November (2012): 15-17. SIRS Issue Researcher . Web. 20 May 2014.
Neal, Meghan. “1 in 12 Teens Have Attempted Suicide: Report .” NY Daily News . N.p., 9 June 2012. Web. 20 May 2014. .
Parks, Peggy J. Teenage Suicide . San Diego, CA: ReferencePoint, 2012. Print.
Smith, Melinda, Suzanne Barston, and Jeanne Segal. “Teen Depression: A Guide for Parents.” -Learn the Signs and How You Can Help Your Teen . N.p., Feb. 2014. Web. 20 May 2014. .
“Suicide and the Media.” Teen Ink . N.p., n.d. Web. 21 May 2014.
“Teen Depression: A Guide for Parents.” -Learn the Signs and How You Can Help Your Teen . N.p., n.d. Web. 20 May 2014. .