Suicide can be a frightening word to parents of teenagers. The challenge of raising a teenager in today’s world is hard enough without the added stress of worrying about their child’s risks of harming themselves. However, it is important that parents have awareness of suicide facts that may impact their teen. Suicide is the third leading cause of death for the age group of 15 to 24 year-olds, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Learning suicide facts can help parents prevent their child from becoming one of those statistics.
Kevin Breel didn’t look like a depressed kid: team captain, at every party, funny and confident. But he tells the story of the night he realized that — to save his own life — he needed to say four simple words. I suffer from depression. TED Talks
It is not uncommon for teenagers to feel depressed, stressed, or troubled. However, Rutgers University Behavioral Research has stated that the number one cause of suicide is untreated mental disorders. The most common disorders linked to suicide in teenagers are major depressive disorder, anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, substance abuse, and eating disorders. These disorders are a result of changes in the brain chemistry. While environmental stressors or factors can have an impact, these disorders are not caused by them.
However, the combination of these mental disorders along with outside influence, such as abuse, bullying, divorce, or trauma, can lead to suicidal thoughts and actions. But mental disorders can also lead to stressful situations, such as social isolation, relationship problems, and family conflict. While parents are not usually trained to recognize the symptoms of mental disorders, being aware of your child’s behavior and emotions is essential. If you feel your child is having issues, it is best to take them to see a mental health professional to be evaluated. Some of the symptoms listed by the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry include
- Frequent sadness, tearfulness, crying
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Low self esteem
- Poor concentration
- Expressing thoughts of suicide
If you notice major differences in your child’s behavior, it is better to acknowledge them rather than believe it is normal teenage behavior.
October 7, 2003 will always be the day that divides my life. Before that day my son Ryan was alive. A sweet, gentle and lanky thirteen year old fumbling his way through early adolescence and trying to establish his place in the often confusing and difficult social world of middle school. After that day my son would be gone forever, a death by suicide. Some would call it bullycide or even cyber bullycide. I just call it a huge hole in my heart that will never heal. Ryan’s Story
For every completed suicide by a teenager, it is estimated that between 100 and 200 attempt to take their own lives. In the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Report for 2013, released by the CDC, almost 15 percent of students nationwide admitted to being cyberbullied and almost 20 percent were bullied on school property in the 12 months before the survey. During that same period of time, 29 percent of students claimed to have felt sad or hopeless for two or more weeks in a row. The report also showed that 17 percent of the students seriously considered attempting suicide.
Bullying both online and in real life has become a major issue for many teenagers today. With the prevalence of technology, kids are almost continuously “connected”. What once was a problem that took place outside the home is now reaching inside, even to the privacy of their bedroom, with few ways to escape their bullies. A Bullying can come in many forms, such as:
- Physical bullying
- Emotional bullying
- Circulating suggestive or nude photos
Bullying suicide facts show that nearly 30 percent of students are either bullies or victims of bullies, with 160,000 students staying home each day due to their fear of bullying. If your child talks to you about being bullied, consider serious action. Bullying is not a rite of passage during youth, and the consequences can lead to depression, dangerous behavior, and suicide.
The cataclysm that ended the world – my world, that is – occurred on May 26, 1999. At least I thought that my world had ended as I applied CPR to the lifeless body of my once vibrant 11 year-old son who had just hanged himself. Sean had been such a kind child who would always stop and visit with strangers in wheelchairs, just because he wanted to make them happy. Fifth grade had been a hard year for him at school, and he had come within one week of surviving that school term. Sean’s Story
Many teenagers struggle with their self esteem. Worrying about how they fit in, who they are, their appearance, and peer pressure are all a part of adolescence. However, low self esteem can create bigger problems for teens. High risk behavior, such as unprotected sex, drug and alcohol use, and teen pregnancy have all been linked to low self esteem. But even worse, it can lead to a teenager to feel hopeless, depressed, and suicidal.
Self esteem is how a person views and feels about themselves. High self esteem can help teens deal with emotional stress and peer pressure and succeed later in life. But what factors determine self esteem in teens?
Appearance – While often times parents stress that looks are not important and it is what is inside that counts, the truth is – to teenagers looks matter. While some teens struggle with obvious appearance issues, such as severe acne, weight problems, or other irregularities in their appearance, they are not the only ones. Often times teens who seem to look like your average kid are struggling with a part of their appearance. It is important as parents to be aware of how your teenager feels about their looks.
Peers – How their peers view them has a big impact on how they view themselves. While many adults learn to be happy with themselves without outside approval, during the teen years, often times their peers have more impact than even family on how they feel about themselves. If they feel that they don’t fit in or that their peers don’t accept them, it can have a large impact on their self esteem.
Parents – Most parents try to help their child love themselves and accept who they are. But even caring parents can make a child feel that they are never good enough, not valued, and criticized. It is important for parents to reassure their child that they are valued and loved, just as they are – not for what they do, what they achieve, or how they behave.
Expectations – Reasonable expectations can help a teenager strive to reach higher goals and be the best they can be. But constantly feeling that they can’t reach goals can make them feel like failures. Whether it’s from the media with their unrealistic expectations of appearances or parents setting goals too high, constantly feeling like they are falling short is a huge blow to a teen’s self esteem.
While you don’t want to constantly praise your teenager for everything, it is important to let them know how much you love and accept them. Help them build a good self image and self esteem to face the challenges
The statistics and information in this article are just a small part of the big picture of teenage suicide facts. The most important facts are the ones you see every day – your teenager. The best suicide prevention facts are the ones you find at home, with your child. Being involved and having an awareness of what is going on in your teenagers life is the best way to prevent youth suicide. Spend time and talk with your teenager every day. Know what they are doing in school, away from school, at home, and online. Only by having this awareness can you prevent a tragedy, such as teen suicide from happening.
If you teenager talks about hurting themselves or killing themselves, don’t hesitate. Get them help. Seeing signs of depression, low self esteem, strange behavior that is out of the norm, sudden changes in mood, or even if you simply have a feeling that something isn’t right, trust your instinct. Having your teenager talk to a professional who understands can often make a difference in the life of a teen who is struggling. Let your teen know that they are not alone in their struggle, before it’s too late for them to hear you.