Teensuicide Essay, Research Paper
During the teen years, adolescents go through many different changes. These changes cause many teens to feel as though they are the only ones that have these feelings and that no one can help them. The teen that develops these types of mentality generally has little help from friends and family to overcome the feelings that could possibly lead to suicide. Suicide is when someone tries to kill himself or herself. Teen suicide is based on the same idea, but it is for people that are teenagers. About 5,000 teenagers kill themselves every year. That makes teen suicide the third leading cause of death for teenagers next to accidents and crime. The thought of killing oneself as a solution for problems at school is common for grade school and college kids. On the grade school side, 9% think of suicide, 2% seriously consider suicide, and 1-% attempts it. On the college side, the numbers multiply by five times. A whopping 43% think about it, 15% seriously consider it, and 5% attempt it (1).
The actual number of suicides is higher than the estimated one because they are not classified as suicides. They are classified as accidents or victims of crime. A car that crashed into a tree could be called an accident, but if the car was working perfectly and the driver was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol it would be called a suicide.
Young males are five times more likely to commit suicide than young females. Females are more unsuccessful when committing suicide because they are more apt to ingest drugs or cut their wrists. Doctors still have time to save them. On the other hand, boys more commonly hang themselves or jump off tall buildings. The use of firearms in teen suicides is about the same for both sexes. By the time that doctors get to them, they’re dead. It has been found that there are more white teenagers than black teenagers who kill themselves; and that teenagers in the western area of the United States are more likely to be suicidal because more people own firearms in the West (2).
Teens are in a transitional period between childhood and adulthood, and this can lead to confusion and anxiety at times. Teens with an adequate support network of friends, family, religious affiliation, peer groups, or extracurricular activities may have an outlet to deal with their everyday frustrations. Teens without an adequate support network, however, may feel disconnected and isolated from their family and peer group. It’s these teens who are at increased risk for suicide if they are unable to deal with their problems.
Sheslow further emphasizes the importance of a support network for teens who have suffered physical or sexual abuse and those who have very poor relationships with their parents.
Doctors at the American Psychiatric Association (APA) say that teens considering suicide often face problems that are out of their control -divorce, alcoholism of a family member, or exposure to domestic violence, for example. A family history of depression or suicide is another significant risk factor. Since depressive illnesses may have a genetic component, some teens may be predisposed to suffer major depression. Feelings of helplessness and worthlessness may accompany the depression.
Feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness are major risk factors for suicide. A teen, for example, who experiences repeated failures at school, who is overwhelmed by violence at home, who is isolated from peers, or who faces the social stigma of homosexuality alone is likely to experience such feelings. “If he sees himself as inadequate and worthless and he believes the future is unchangeable, these are clear warning signs of possible trouble,” says Dr. Sheslow (3).
Sometimes teens will attempt to numb the pain of those feelings with alcohol or drugs. Substance abuse is a major risk factor for suicide, says the APA, along with the expression of violent feelings (4).
There are about five signs for suicide. The first one is depression. They may be depressed about getting an “F” on their math test or have had a death in the family. The second sign is talking about suicide. They may say things like “I’m want to kill myself,” or “You won’t have to worry about me much longer.” The third sign is giving some of their most prized possessions away or writing out their will. Some people give away their favorite clothes, stereo systems, or even their cars. The fourth sign is that they start taking extremely dangerous risks. They may go rowing without a life preserver, try to fix electrical appliances by themselves, stop wearing their seat belt, and go driving while they are drunk. The fifth sign for suicide is being unexplainable cheerful or happy. By this time they probably have made up their minds about suicide (5).
Anyone can be a victim of teen suicide. It could be the all-star of the football team, the girl who has the cutest guy in school, or the hyper-accelerated really smart kid down the street. Everyone has stress and everyone has to deal with it, but not everyone deals with stress the same way. For example one-person may play a sport to release and relieve their tensions, but another may start being depressed and being self-destructive.
As you may see there are many different things involved when talking to teens about suicide. Some of these things involved need to be looked are items such as social stature of the adolescent, if there is apparent substance abuse, and how the child is performing in school. If an adolescent ever contemplates suicide the parent or guardian should immediately seek help. Contrary to popular belief, people who talk about suicide are likely to follow through. Pay attention to phrases such as, “It’s no use, I’d be better off dead.” Also be suspicious if a child who has been very depressed suddenly becomes cheerful or hopeful. This intense mood swing may indicate that he believes suicide will be a solution to all his problems.
1. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Teen Suicide. 6 May, 1996. University of Michigan. Internet. Downloaded 5 March 1999.
3. Kids Health.Org Understanding and Preventing Teen Suicide. 1999. The Nemours Foundation. Internet. Downloaded 5 March 1999.
4. American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Teen Suicide. 1998. Internet. Downloaded 7 March 1999.
5. Schleifer, Jay. Everything You Need to Know About Teen Suicide. The Rosen Publishing Group, Inc. 1989
Other Sources Used
1. DeMaso, David R., M.D. Teen Suicide Forum. December 1993. Risk Management Foundation. Internet. Downloaded 5 March 1999.
2. Shaffer D., Garland A., Gould M., Fisher P., and Trautman P., (1988) Preventing Teen Suicide? A Critical Review. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.