Suicide is the third leading cause of death for people age 15 to 24. Accidents are number one and homicide just passes up suicide and come in second. According to the National Mental Health Association, “Each year, almost 5, 000 young people, ages 15 to 24, kill themselves. The rate of suicide for this age group has nearly tripled since 1960… .” (1).
More and more teenagers are being pushed to the edge, as explained in the story of eighth grader, Luis.
Luis was the skinniest eighth-grader in his class. He also wore glasses and had braces on his teeth, and the other students picked on him every day. They thought it was fun to push Luis into lockers and steal his money, because he was too weak to fight back. The teachers never did anything about it. ‘I should just kill myself,’ he thought, ‘then they would be sorry.’ He pictured them all at his funeral, wishing they had been nicer to him.
After one very hard day at school, Luis decided it was time to teach them a lesson. He swallowed about twenty sleeping pills. Then hey just lay on his bed and felt glad that the other kids were going to regret making his life so hard (Schleifer 25).
Teen suicide effects everyone; whether friends, family, or peers. There are many things that cause the need for suicide; there are many obvious warning signs, and also many ways to prevent someone from committing suicide. Even though most teens know that suicide is not a good way to solve their problems, there are many things that just push teens over the edge and cause them to commit suicide.
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Teens often feel alone, abandoned, ignored, or rejected and they feel that the only way to get some attention is to try to kill themselves. A feeling of hopelessness, depression, low self-esteem, and feeling like a failure are all of the main reasons why suicide is committed so often. Pressure can come from family, work, school, or friends to try to do better then the teen can actually achieve. Everyone knows how it feels to be close to someone and when that relationship is shattered, so is the person’s esteem. When breaking up with a significant other, teens often feel very alone and that life can’t go on without that other person who is now missing in their life. Even if that important relationship wasn’t a romantic relationship, it can still greatly affect a person.
If a teen moves away or has a close friend move away, they may think there is nothing left to live for. An acne medication called Accutane has been proven to be a possible link to teen suicides. According to Cosmo Girl magazine, the fast acting acne medication was developed in 1971 as a use for cancer treatment but abandoned. It was then starting to be used in 1975 as a way to clear up different forms of acne, and then the United States approved of Accutane after a nine month FDA study (115).
At first doctors were not required to inform their patients on all of the side effects that come along with Accutane.
However, after many teen suicides have been linked to the medication, doctors are required to let both the child and the parents know all of the possible symptoms that may accompany Accutane. David Kleist, an Accutane user of 5 months stated, “It helped my face a lot but it made me feel more tired and more depressed at times. After the 5 months was up, my doctor took me off of it because he said that I could only stay on it for that long because otherwise it would start to damage my liver and raise my cholesterol.” Even though there are many causes for a teen to feel they need to commit suicide, there can also be many warning signs that are easy for friends and family members to pick out. Most of the time, a teen that is considering suicide thinks about the decision awhile before they actually try to go through with it.
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They start acting different and having different attitudes about school, work, relationships, friends, and family. People who are close and know these teens well should notice a change and see the warning signs that the teens are sometimes so bluntly showing. When a teenager tries to commit suicide, that is the number one sign that they will try it again. If they have tried to go through with it once, they probably won’t hesitate too much to try it again.
If they take risks carelessly, they may have the attitude that their life doesn’t matter. If patterns start to change such as sleep, appetite, school grades, health or drug abuse it is a sign that depression is setting in on their life. Giving away prized possessions to family or friends is also a very clear sign the teenager doesn’t plan on living for too much longer. When teens talk about death, suicide, or make threats, that is a definite sign. They shouldn’t be taken lightly and need help from someone right away. Several teens can be saved from committing suicide is they get help from the people close to them that they are most often reaching out to.
For the victims to be saved, people need to know the different ways a suicidal teen can be helped. First, let them know that no matter what, you care about them and you are very concerned. Try to be direct with teens when talking about suicide. Don’t just let them say they are not going to commit suicide, and forget about it. Keep talking to them to find out their true feelings about the situation. Do not make a joke about the feelings the suicidal teen feels.
Always take them seriously so you can help them. Reinforce that all problems can be solved. Contact some kind of help, adult or other, even if the teen doesn’t want you to. Just let them know you are doing it for the best interest of them and that there are many places that can help them work through their problems.
No matter how bad the situation gets, there is always going to be someone there who can help a needy teen who is battling the suicide decision. Some schools have programs that talk about teen suicide. There are also screening programs available that can tell if teens may be suicidal. The only bad thing is that these tests are voluntary and if they are suicidal, they may not want to take it. The community can also take action to help troubled teens.
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Agencies are very helpful because they try to keep talking to the teen until the teen gets the suicidal ideas out of their head. Support groups are something that teens really need when they are considering suicide. Groups give them a chance to talk to other people who are going through the same things they are and they don’t feel so alone and helpless. Suicide hotlines and crisis centers are usually a last hope for teens. They may call a hotline right before they commit suicide, so the people they talk to have a very important job that could mean life or death for one struggling teenager.
If the teenager commits suicide, the problems only begin after they have passed away. Family, friends, and others close to the teenager go through many stages of pain and guilt. At first, everyone has a feeling of shock and can’t believe that the teen could ever do something so tragic. Anger at many people may be an intense feeling after a suicide. Family and friends may be angry at the teen that committed suicide for putting them in this pain.
They may also be very mad at another because they consider others may be responsible for pushing the teen over the edge. The people who were close to that teen will be very sad and even depressed. This is when another suicide may happen because they may feel this sadness will never end. Much guilt is felt since they couldn’t have helped the person to prevent the suicide. Shame could fall into play because families may thing that people will look down on their family as a result of the actions of the suicidal teen.
Some still believe that if they were related or very close to a suicide victim, the idea of suicide rubbed off on them. A big myth about suicide is that it is hereditary. If someone in your family commits suicide, that you will probably commit suicide also. The truth is that suicide is a choice and just because a family member does it, doesn’t mean you will.
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Some of the public also believes that if a teen is going to kill themselves, no one can talk them out of it. Most of the time teens don’t want to die; they are just trying to reach out for help. If you try to help them, they will probably not go through with it. Talking to a depressed friend or family member about suicide will not put ideas in their heads. If anything, they may have been considering suicide and will most likely not go through with it if you talk about their problems with them. According to Suicide Wise, “The attempted suicide rate for high school females is more than twice as high as for males” (6).
Teen suicide is a very hard thing to deal with considering there are many causes, effects, and ways to prevent suicides from happening to those who are close to us. A way to summarize what all of the possible causes for suicide are, is pretty much anything that would make someone very sad, depressed, or just very stressed out. Teens who feel they need to commit suicide often leave warning signs that are very obvious. They are just looking for someone to talk to and somewhere to get help with their problems. Suicide is the ultimate act of selfishness because teens do not understand how many people they are hurting by carelessly ending their life.