Hurting Teens & Suicide
One of the leading causes of death amongst teenagers is suicide. According to the Centers for Disease Control, each year, 4,600 young lives end too soon as a result of suicide. In a nationwide survey of youth in 9th to 12th grade, 16% of students surveyed said they seriously considered suicide; 13% said they created a plan; and 8% of those students attempted to take their own life. The Centers for Disease control report that it is the third leading cause of death, behind accidents and homicide, of people aged 15 to 24. Even more disturbing is the fact that suicide is the fourth leading cause of death for children between the ages of 10 and 14.
When a person is hurting, it is important that they share their feelings to someone who will listen and help. Alienating yourself from a loved one, close friend or a responsible adult that can help you is not the answers. Many times as teens you hear negative voices in your head telling you that you're nothing and that you are a failure and no one loves you. Often times, those same voices you hear in your head are the same voices you hear from your peers in school who don't like you. For whatever reason, they criticize who you are and make fun of you to others. You find yourself taking in those negative words and believing in those negative words. You may also struggle with a parent(s) or sibling(s) at home who is rejecting you an putting you down because they feel you are dumb or clumsy. People in all directions you feel are hurling insults at you and doing everything they can to bring you down. You feel as if there is no way out or relief from the pain you feel inside.
Maybe you lost a loved one or a dear friend and it's hard for you to recover from such a devastating loss. You feel as if you lost a great part of you that can never be recovered. Who will I talk to now you ask? No one understands me like my best friend did or my mom or dad that passed away. Maybe your parents divorced and it left you with a big hole in your heart. You were use to having both parents around in your life and now they are no longer together. You envy other kids parents who are together wishing that they were your parents. I'm all alone in this world you feel. I'm dumb, I just can't get ahead in my grades in school, I can't get along with my peers, I'm being abused and I hate myself. Why should I live? What purpose do I have here in life? Every time I try to take two steps forward, I get pulled 10 steps back. I'm being bullied at school at home and everywhere I go. No one likes the way I look, I can't find any boy or any girl to love me. I hate it here! I don't want to live anymore!
According to The National Institution of Mental Health
Everyone occasionally feels blue or sad. But these feelings are usually short-lived and pass within a couple of days. When you have depression, it interferes with daily life and causes pain for both you and those who care about you. Depression is a common but serious illness.
Many people with a depressive illness never seek treatment. But the majority, even those with the most severe depression, can get better with treatment. Medications, psychotherapies, and other methods can effectively treat people with depression.
There are several forms of depressive disorders.
Major depression,—severe symptoms that interfere with your ability to work, sleep, study, eat, and enjoy life. An episode can occur only once in a person’s lifetime, but more often, a person has several episodes.
Persistent depressive disorder—depressed mood that lasts for at least 2 years. A person diagnosed with persistent depressive disorder may have episodes of major depression along with periods of less severe symptoms, but symptoms must last for 2 years.
Be available for your teen. If you see that something is bothering them, don't be afraid to ask what is wrong. Be prepare to listen without judging your teen and let them have your undivided attention.
Focus on how they are feeling and the words they are saying. Listen for words of hopelessness and negative words they are saying about themselves or others. If it's about you, do not interrupt your teen. It is important to them that you hear what's really going on inside.
Once your teen has expressed his/her feelings, "pause" before you begin answering. Show signs of affection towards your teen by holding their hand or looking them straight in the eyes showing compassion. Ask your teen if it's okay for you to share. If so, don't start pointing out the negative. Empathize with your teen by saying, "I heard everything that you said, and I can only imagine how you must feel." Then proceed to share words of comfort, strength and wisdom to help them in their time of need. Don't tell them what to do, ask your teen what it is they would like for you to do. Be transparent by sharing with your teen your testimony if there is one of how you too suffered depression and low self-esteem and how you were able to overcome.
Discuss with your teen that you would like for the two of you to seek help by talking to someone who can help. You don't want your teen to think you are sending them to a shrink because you just can't help them. Using the word shrink is very harsh. If you are involved in a local church that offer counseling to teens who are struggling or the teen has a school counselor that specializes in the area your teen is struggling in, ask your teen if it's okay to go to one of those two persons. If not, find someone your teen is comfortable with and yourself and seek help together.
Spend additional quality time with your teen. If you're busy, make time. Your teens health and well being should be a top priority to you. If you ignore your teen when they need you, there may be a possibility that your teen could seek out alternative ways that are not good, healthy or life threatening if you refuse to talk to your teen.
Go into this with patience. Your teens recovery may not happen quickly. It may take some time even a year or more. Adjust your schedule as much as you can in order to spend time with your teen. Create activities you can do together. Find things your teen enjoy doing and do it with them if they desire your company.
Speak words of affirmation to your teen. Build them up with positive words and let them know that they are needed in your life and in the life of others. Never give up on your teen. Do all you can to help your teen recover by giving them your love, support, guidance and help when they need it.
Don't smother your teen. Give them some space as they recover. Allow them to gain their confidence back by giving them something to do that is challenging yet rewarding. If they make several mistakes, it's okay. Allow them some room and time to figure it out with your guidance so that they can feel responsible and needed.
Article by Sonia Denice De La Torre
Statistics on suicide from Centers of Disease Control
Information on Depression from The National Institution of Mental Health