In the past several years, the rate of teenage suicide has plagued a nation that has become all too accustomed to it. Suicide is the third leading cause of death in people aged 15-24, according the the Center of Disease Control (CDC).
Rita Furbert, junior, understands the first-hand experience of losing a friend to suicide. “It feels like an empty space in my heart and that something big is missing…she was like a sister to me, and I loved her, and I still love her. It emotionally wrecks my everyday life knowing that I lost someone so near and dear to my heart.”.
These are the chilling words that nobody wants to hear but unveils the repercussions that those close to a victim have to deal with everyday.
So, the question many people ask is ‘Why? Why commit suicide? Why leave everything and everyone you know behind?’ The reason for teenage suicide is complex and not always consistent or for the same reason. However one this is clear: we can stop it.
Teenage suicide is mainly caused by psychological, social, and environmental distress. The risk factors for teenage suicide are mostly depression and other mental disorders and illnesses. Many times, at-risk teenagers are unable to cope with the challenges confronted in adolescence and are overwhelmed by internal and external circumstances. Suicide is often seen as a permanent solution to a temporary conflict or issue.
First, at-risk teenagers many times struggle to maintain a mental balance. As a teenager, an individual may face stress, self-doubt or pressure. When expectations are not met, the stress and frustration only increases in severity. Mental disorders such as depression and anxiety are leading causes of suicide. A mentally ill or disturbed teenager who is not fit to handle the difficulties of adolescence are the most at-risk.
Another risk for teenage suicide is the social aspect in an individual’s life. An at-risk teen may become a vulnerable victim to bullying or verbal, physical, sexual, and cyber abuse. A fearful teenager may view suicide as an outlet to escape the humiliation and stress. Without any stable relationships or friends to talk to or depend on, a teen may feel the effects of loneliness and depression.
A final risk for teenagers, is when they may be involved in external circumstances that are out of their control. If a teen is exposed to family violence or family financial instability, frustration and anger can continually build. Also, if a teenager experiences a solemn event such as a death in the family or parental divorce, often times they are not mature or knowledgeable enough to understand how to handle the situation.
Signs of a Suicidal Teen and Prevention
There are many signs of potential suicide in at-risk teenagers. These are a few of the most important behaviors of a potentially suicidal teenager that should definitely raise some red flags: talking about committing suicide, acts of self harm, significant changes (for the worse) in personality, behavior, eating habits, or sleep patterns, low self esteem, and withdrawal from social life and regular activities.
However, with education and awareness, we can reduce the amount of mourning mothers and fathers who can only wonder ‘what if’. The mental illnesses most commonly associated with suicide is treatable. There are many organizations and programs aimed at educating about teenage suicide, and reaching out a lending hand to help those in need.
The Youth Suicide Prevention Program, The American Association of Suicidology, and The Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide are just a few of the countless organizations and nonprofits dedicated to preventing teenage suicides. The ultimate goal is to accurately educate parents and children through these programs and at school. When the children receive the proper treatment and care, once suicidal teens can heal and begin a road to a healthier development.
We can put a stop to teenage suicide. Many people and organizations have stepped up to the plate and accepted the challenge, and have saved thousands of teenagers from suicide. However, the journey isn’t over yet, and there is still a lot more work left to be done. What will you do to prevent teen suicide?
The National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1 (800) 273-8255 (24 HOURS/7 DAYS A WEEK)