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Teen Suicide: Is Your Child At Risk?
One might expect to find disheartening news when checking web sources or the national news, but in recent months, an increase in teenage suicide stories has left people across the country upset and saddened. The recent events surrounding the death of Tyler Clementi, an up-and-coming musician and Rutgers student, have inspired friends and even celebrities to publicly call for a way to prevent future needless deaths. To paraphrase Ellen DeGeneres about these recent suicides, when one teen kills herself it’s a tragedy, when several do it, it’s a crisis.
As a parent of a teenager, you may be able to empathize with your child because you’ve lived through the awkward years and what at the time seemed like an inordinate amount of stress. From age ten through college, young people are under varying degrees of pressure—the desire to do well in school, the desire to be accepted by their peers, and the goals to succeed in sports and music and other passions. When things don’t seem to be going their way, discouragement can lead some to believe that the only solution is to remove themselves permanently from the situation and from life.
To prevent teen suicide, it is important to understand what drives a young person to consider and act on it. Some events that can lead to a teen taking their own life include:
1) Persistent bullying. Sadly, recent reports have shown an increase in this behavior. Teens who are teased about their religion, sexual orientation, weight, economic status, and other reasons can allow themselves to be taunted and consumed. Some, like Phoebe Prince, decide there’s no relief from cruel banter.
2) Depression and similar disorders. Teenagers who suffer from clinical depression or other mental illnesses tend to be at higher risk. Smaller problems, such as failing a test or being cut from a sports team, can seem like bigger problems that turn out to be too much to bear.
3) Unrelated illnesses or accidents. Some teenagers who survive accidents and are scarred or lose a limb may think they are permanently damaged or useless and have chosen death over a life of disability.
4) Problems at home. Divorce of parents, financial problems, and the death of a loved one were attributed to some of the teen’s self-inflicted deaths. For example, if a sibling or parent dies suddenly, the subsequent depression and grief can drive a person to find peace in such a way.
It’s true that teens who have experienced one of the above situations may not be considering suicide, but if you’re concerned about your child’s mental health, it’s important to look for the signs and take steps to get your child the help they need to cope. your problems. . Some things to watch for include:
1) Obvious changes in behavior at home and at school. Does your child seem moodier and quieter? He may be less willing to participate in school events or social gatherings, and his grades may have seriously deteriorated.
2) Loss of interest in activities. If your child once lived to play a favorite sport or musical instrument, but is no longer practicing or playing, that should be a tell-tale sign that something is wrong.
3) Appearance changes. Your child may not be as meticulous in dressing and grooming or may have less of an appetite. Such self-deprecating behavior may indicate apathy towards life in general.
4) Extreme, unusual behavior and dialogue. Listen to your teen. If you start hearing suggestions that the world is better off without them, or vocal wishes to die, don’t dismiss them as mere anxiety. If you notice that your teen is giving away valuables, this may indicate a “settling of affairs” before they take action.
Even if the above symptoms indicate other behaviors, it is safe to act and talk to your teenager. If you can’t get him to open up to you, talk to a professional who specializes in suicide prevention.
Above all, be there and let your child know that they are loved and that whatever problems they are experiencing now will fade in importance and severity over time. A popular mantra says, “suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.” Make sure they know.
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