Suicide: The Predator Of Youth Essay, Research Paper
Suicide:The Predator of Youth Suicide among American teens has become a problem over the last four decades. While suicide rates in the U.S. are average compared to other industrialized nations, suicide rates for the U.S. are generally higher than developing nations (San Francisco 1). Suicide is now the 9th leading cause of death in the United States. Sadly it has become the 3rd leading cause of death among adolescents (McIntosh 3). Suicide is an issue that affects many people, but why has it had such a huge impact on white teenage males? The numbers reported in the United States male population are alarming and may help answer many questions concerning teenage suicide. In 1994, whites had the largest suicide rate among all the ethnic groups in the U.S. (San Francisco 2). The numbers presented to the American Association of Suicidology in 1994 were alarming. The statistics presented showed that white males accounted for 22,581 of those deaths, while black males committed 2,271 suicides in 1994. The rates of these two groups are shockingly different. White males showed a rate of 21.3, yet blacks only had a rate of 7.0. In 1994, the category of young adults (15-24) consisted of 4, 956 suicides. White males accounted for 3,550 of these suicides. This number gives evidence that the shocking rate for white male teenage suicide is 24.1% of all teenage suicides. Only 556 of these suicides were accredited to black youths. The rate for that group is high also with a rate of 20.6 (McIntosh 3). The numbers of male teenage suicides to female teenage suicides show a great diversity in the numbers. Suicide rates in males have always been significantly higher than the rates in females (McIntosh 3). While many females may make unsuccessful attempts at suicides, men are far more likely to commit suicide than women are (San Francisco 1). The ratio of male to female suicides is four to one (Teen Suicide 2).There were 654 female youth suicides in 1994. This is only a rate of 4.5, which comes up much smaller than the rate of male youth suicides. The majority of the suicides in females are credited to whites. White females recorded 528 suicide deaths in 1994. While surprisingly there were only 73 black female youth suicides. This is a difference in rates of about 1.1 (McIntosh 3).The facts on white teenage male suicide are what will help everyone to grasp a basic knowledge of the issue of white male teenage suicide. There are distinct regional patterns in which more white teenage males commit suicide. In the United States teen suicide rates are the lowest in the South, North Central, and North Eastern states. The suicide rates are highest in the Western states and Alaska (Youth Suicide 5). This is surprising because there can be many sociological problems that may lead to suicide. One factor may be coming from a divorced family. These types of family problems can often times lead an adolescent down a path of bewilderment and confusion. Another factor may be family income. A teenager may feel as though he or she is not worth anything if his or her family doesn t have much money. The lowest family incomes are found mainly in the South, but there are also lower expectancies of youth from the South. One source explained that Maine has had a consistently higher suicide rate than the national average (Maine Youth 1). Researchers are unsure of why teen suicide has become so prevalent in Maine, but the group is pursuing an answer for the parents of teenagers, so that awareness of warning signs is established. The majority of youth suicides occur with the help of a firearm. Often times a girl may use a less violent way, but most male youth suicides occur through a more violent method. In 1994, there were 3,344 youth suicides that were performed by use of a firearm. That is an astonishing percent of 67.5 that used firearms in 1994 out of all of the youth suicides (McIntosh 4). There are many reasons why a male may choose to take his life. There are numerous feelings that occur throughout the growth stages. Some teens feel that their situations will never change (Why Do 1). An example of this type of situation is a boy that feels he will never be good enough to make the basketball team. This boy feels a hopelessness that he will never be able to play no matter how hard he tries. In his moment of despair he does not comprehend that he may be able to practice more and next year make the team.There are biological reasons such as chemical imbalance, physical disability, or physical dependency on alcohol or drugs that may cause a teen to take his or her life (Why Do 1). A teen with such an emotional problem may not be able to understand that suicide is not his or her only option. Their substance abuse problem might make his or her thinking clouded. The teens may not feel comfortable reaching out for help or that if they ask for help, he or she will only encounter trouble with their parents or the law.During the adolescent years, there are many emotions that a teen may experience. These emotions can range from sadness or stress to guilt and low self-esteem (Why Do 1). Death is the major cause of this motive for suicide. If a teen loses a close friend or other individual he or she may feel a lot of despair. It is often times difficult for a teen to understand why a person that he or she cared about has passed on. The teen may feel guilty for not doing more or because it wasn t themselves that died. Death is always difficult, but it can be especially difficult for those teens that do not understand death and also do not talk with adults about the issue.
Some problems stem from intellectual difficulties. A teen may be unable to communicate his or her feelings well, strive for perfection, or be self-critical (Why Do 1). A self-critical teen is one that feels what he or she has done is never good enough. These teens strive for excellence in everything that they do. If perfection is not achieved a depression sets in and the teen feels as though he or she is not worthy enough. Those teens that strive for perfection can never reach a point in which they are happy with themselves or their accomplishments. I think a major factor that plays in teens committing suicide is due to social isolation. When a teen is growing up it is necessary that he or she have a sense of belonging or a group of friends. Many teens who that commit suicide are isolated at school and at home. These teens are not popular and do not fit in the cliques that are found at most schools across the nation. Sometimes these teens may be labeled as crazy, stupid, or different. Those are words that can often times scar a developing person. These teens that are teased feel as though they will never belong to anything; therefore, they wonder why they should continue to live if they are going to be unhappy (Why Do 1).Sadly, the teens mentioned above sometimes take others with them. As we have seen with the Columbine High School shooting, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were on a predetermined path, but they unfortunately choose to take others with them. It is reported that Harris and Klebold had been outcasts of their high school. The boys did not seem to like jocks, people of different races, or those who believed in God. The boys were so unhappy about their life circumstances that they went on a shooting rampage in their own high school killing twelve students and one teacher before taking their own lives. The boys had given many warning signs all of which were ignored by parents, law officers, and teachers. It is because of these types of senseless acts that there must be a strong awareness of the characteristics of a teen in crisis.Suicide may commonly occur in males because it is often times associated with aggressive behavior, which is more common in males. Males may feel that suicide is the only way for everyone else to notice them. Another problem in males is the risk factors such as depression or exposure to drugs and alcohol (Youth Suicide 2). These are only escapes, from the real world, that may give the male some sort of relief from everyday life. The males eventually come down from this state of mind and are in the same predicament that he was in before his escape. The central risk factors for suicide are mental and addictive disorders (San Francisco 2).The trends that are predicted for the future are frightening, so adults must focus on the ways to end this frightening course toward destruction. The sad news is that suicide, over the past two decades, has become more common in the young (Youth Suicide 2). If trends continue, by the year 2000, two million 15-24 year-olds will attempt suicide in the decade. Suicide is an unfortunate incident that occurs in many people s lives. The even sadder fact is that it doesn t have to occur as often or even at all. The answer cannot come from doctors and psychologists, but it must come from those teens that have been in the same situation. We, as a society, need to dig deep into the minds of those teens that have felt hopeless and alone and have attempted to commit suicide. The answers will come from those who have faced adversity in the face. They are the ones who understand how they felt and know what they needed and didn t receive at the time of their greatest need.
Associated Press. 1 in 4 teenagers have considered suicide study. State Journal Register 20 September 1991 APA Public Information. Teen Suicide. 5 January 1998. Online. Internet. 12 April 1999. Available www.psych.org/public_info/TEENAG 1.HTM McIntosh, John L. U.S.A. Suicide: 1994 Official Final Statistics. 23 November 1998. Online. Internet. Available http://sun1.iusb.edu/ jmcintos/SuicideStats.html Maine Youth at Risk. 21 October 1998. Online. Internet. 8 April 1999. Available http://www.emh.org/suime.htm San Francisco Suicide Prevention. 29 December 1998. Online. Internet. Available http://www.sfsuicide.org/html/stats.html Why Do Youth Commit Suicide?. 13 November 1998. Online. Internet. Available http://www.emh.org/suiwhy.htm Youth Suicide: Epidemiology. 05 February 1999. Online. Internet. Available http://www.afsp.org/youth/epidemio.htm