For those who believe that bullying is not as severe or drastic as the media reports or that teasing is just a part of growing up, this article is for you. Suicide is the third leading cause of death for young adults and teenagers, and bullying has increased across the U.S. since the tragedy of Columbine High School. This incident has created a new dimension of suicide where victims of bullying resort to committing suicide as a lost hope of surviving the pain.
In 2014, it is difficult to believe that teens could feel so desperate and hopeless that they strategically plan to kill themselves. Even with all the technological gadgets and other diversions that fill a teen’s life, they are still extremely vulnerable. In the U.S., over 5,000 students committed suicide just this year. These unfortunate teens found it necessary to stop the progression of their lives and opt for death because of the heartfelt pain they are handling on their own. Some young people endure bullying for years and they slip deeper into depression to the point where they may resort to killing themselves.
Why Teenagers Commit Suicide
The Surgeon General reports that there are several reasons why teens commit suicide; these reasons include alcohol, drug use, depression, family problems, and aggressive and disruptive behaviors. Bullying is increasingly becoming associated with suicide especially if the bullying is intense. The truth is, the majority of young adults who commit suicide could have been saved if help had been offered to them. Saving a teenager or a young adult is possible with the right type of awareness and education.
The definition of suicide is the act of purposefully arranging and committing one’s own death. The most effective methods of preventing someone from killing themselves are as follows:
– limiting access to firearms
– treating drug and alcohol abuse
– diagnosing mental illness
– demonstrating methods of improving economic development.
It is vitally important for educators, parents, students, and the general public to be educated about suicidal behavior, where it comes from, and how it can be prevented. Education should offer information to students and individuals who are contemplating suicide. It should teach them to cope with the overwhelming feelings they may have. Friends and family becoming aware of a student who is isolating himself or is depressed because of bullying is extremely valuable. When there is education and a person is able to recognize suicidal behaviors and emotions, they are in a position to help. Promptly reporting the information to an authority figure could be enough to save a life.
The 12 Indicators of Depression and Suicidal Behavior
1. A personality change exhibiting rebellious or angry behavior, withdrawal, or isolation from regular events, activities, and friends
2. Using drugs or alcohol or participating in other risky behaviors
3. A change in eating or sleeping patterns
4. Lack of concentration and declining grades at school
5. Excessive boredom, laziness, and lack of ambition
6. Dealing with a humiliating experience such as a relationship breakup
7. Uncharacteristic neglect of physical appearance
8. Giving or throwing away possessions
9. Complaints of physical symptoms such as headaches, stomachaches, and fatigue
10. Intolerance of compliments or rewards
11. Random comments like “I can’t take it anymore,” “Nobody cares about me,” or “I wish I was dead.”
12. Preoccupation with writing songs or poems that revolve around death and dying
Stories of Teens Who Saw No Other Solution
Committing suicide is not reserved only for teenagers; suicide prompted by bullying is common among young adults as well. Unfortunately, those contemplating suicide retreat and do not reach out to others, so it is up to friends and family to be aware of the signs in order to protect them. Those who are being bullied may keep the taunting and intimidation inside for months, even years, before they finally take action. Since isolation is a major indicator of suicide, those around a teen must be attentive to the outward and visible signs they exhibit.
To understand the insidious mental twist that makes everything in an individual’s life appear hopeless and dark, here are five typical cases of teenagers who made that fatal decision in the past ten years.
Alyssa was a 19-year-old college student from Minnesota who was being bullied by her classmates for appearing in an amateur porn flick. Alyssa was a straight A student at the University of Wisconsin River Falls, but, in April, she purchased a shot gun and then used it to shoot herself on her family’s boat. With education, Alyssa’s mother and family would have been able to identify the behaviors that Alyssa was exhibiting and prevented this tragedy.
Rebecca Ann Sedwick
Rebecca was a 12-year-old sixth grader from Winter Haven, Florida, who was being bullied regularly at school and cyber bullied on social media when she was not at school. Two 14 year-old-girls and occasionally as many as 15 other girls humiliated her weekly. For over a year and a half Rebecca endured their teasing and posts on My Space saying “You haven’t killed yourself yet – Go jump off a building.”
On September 9, 2013, Rebecca climbed a tower at an abandoned concrete plant and took her own life by jumping off. When speaking to the police, her mother said she thought she was a normal and happy child, so with adolescents there can always be underlying thoughts. Charges were filed against the two 14-year-olds who instigated the bullying, and then they were dropped. In Florida, the attorney is now pressing for a “Rebecca’s Law,” which would be legislation to make parents more visible in the court system and would allow the state to file bullying charges against minors and their parents. This would be the first policy of its kind and would set a precedent.
Megan was 13 years old and in eighth grade when her parents enrolled her in Immaculate Conception School because she was having problems in public school. She was diagnosed with ADD and depression and because she was overweight she had low-self esteem issues. Her parents described her as a “bubbly and goofy” child who loved her family and friends.
As a victim of cyber bullying, a fake My Space account was created by several girls in Dardenne Prairie to humiliate Megan on a regular basis. They used the name “Josh” to gain Megan’s attention so they could get personal information to use against her. They were reportedly angry because she had gossiped about them.
Megan and imaginary “Josh” cultivated an online relationship for about one year. Suddenly, the girls behind “Josh” had him post that everyone in Dardenne Prairie hated her and that their friendship was over.
Fifteen minutes later, Megan was found in her room on the floor; she had hung herself with a belt.
When someone commits suicide, they never consider who they are leaving behind and the devastation for a parent to find their son or daughter dead. Teen suicide is more impulsive than adult suicide, so it is vital to keep an eye on teens. They are not mature, so they are naturally impulsive and guided by their feelings.
Sydney was 14 years old when she took her life. When her body was found, she had been cutting herself for months. She confided somewhat in her older sister and briefly saw a counselor who told her mother that she was fine. On April 5, she hung herself from the attic in her bedroom. The family could not bear to even go into the house, and they have abandoned it.
Cora was the victim of both cyber and verbal bullying for years in Pickerington, Columbus. She never told her family, and she only shared portions of the abuse with her best friend. Bullies continually called her names and attacked her reputation.
Cora left a suicide note, so her death was planned, and she named several of the 15-year-old girls who had tormented her. Officers who interviewed her friends said that there was no indication of any more harassment than name-calling even though there were horrible attacks made online. The sheriff concluded that name-calling wasn’t enough to arrest those bullying her even though she was obviously emotionally crushed. In Franklin County, there were six youth suicides in 2013 and nine in 2012.
Prevention Is the Answer
Suicidal thoughts and behaviors are the deadly result of despair and the inability to see a way out from their situation. The victim is filled with deep pain and hopelessness and because they can foresee no end to the difficulties before them, they make a permanent decision to a temporary problem.
The prevention of suicide, no matter where the suicidal thoughts are stemming from, involves making education available to educators, students, and people within the community. Becoming informed and able to identify suicidal behaviors allows intervention to take place. Last year, in the United States alone, there were over 32,000 completed suicides. How many were attempted, and how many were prevented? Information as seemingly insignificant as letting the potential suicide victim know that they are not alone may save a teen’s life.