Suicide is a word that many people like to avoid. Talking about suicide makes most people cringe and makes them very uncomfortable. Suicide affects teenagers and young adults around the globe each year. Every day, families around the world lose someone close to them due to suicide. Suicide is an unfortunate occurrence that happens among all age groups; however, teenagers are the age group most affected. Teenage suicide can be caused by a series of emotions or something that happened in the teen’s life, or a combination of both. Teenage suicide can potentially be prevented through the education and action of teenagers and those who come into contact with them. Teenage suicide must be better understood and more aggressively addressed before more teenagers end their lives.
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According to Dictionary.com, the definition of suicide is “the intentional taking of one’s own life” (“Suicide”). While suicide is a fairly common occurrence and has been happening for many years, people are still reluctant to talk about or deal with it. Doctor Smith states in his article, “Still, the social conspiracy of silence on suicide is very much alive and thriving. No subject is more misunderstood, even today, then suicide. It remains one of the last taboos.” (Smith). The first step to dealing with suicide is to understand it and be willing to deal with it by taking action.
There are about one million deaths per year from suicide. This means that worldwide, there is a successful suicide every forty seconds. Additionally, there are about another ten to twenty million non fatal suicide attempts annually (Finn). Suicide is a third leading cause of death for teenagers (“Teen suicide overview”). As of 2001, the suicide rate in the United States was 10.7 per 100,000 people. For young adults ages fifteen to twenty-four the suicide rate was 9.9 per 100,000 people (Rautio, 2008).
Life as a teenager is not easy and some teenagers cannot handle the pressure. There are a variety of things that can lead a teenager to commit suicide. Depression is the most common cause of teenage suicide; however, there are many factors that can cause depression. Some of these factors can be psychological or physical. Some of these other factors include, but are not limited to, substance abuse, changes at home, domestic violence, and financial problems. Difficulty keeping up at school may also contribute to teenage depression. This difficulty could be academic failure, the pressures of participating in extracurricular activities, and peer pressure to fit in with the majority (“Teen suicide overview”).
If one understands what to watch out for in a person trying to commit suicide, then that person may be able to stop the suicide from occurring. According to Jeff Carpenter of ABC News, in his article called “Recognizing Symptoms of Teen Suicide” he says; “Experts say that the warning signs of depression include: lack of energy, not enjoying things that used to be pleasurable, disturbed sleep patterns, loss of confidence, irritability, and tendency to be critical of self.” (Carpenter, 2011). If the signs and symptoms of a suicidal person can be recognized, then there is a greater chance to make a difference between life and death.
Another important sign from a suicidal teenager is the way the teenager talks about, or reacts to a specific thing. Many teenagers who think they are going to commit suicide will talk about it before doing anything. The teenager may say “My life is not good enough.” or “I just want my life to end.”, because they cannot get the topic out of their head. If those in contact with the teenager (parents, friends, teachers, etc.) just listen to the suicidal teenager, then they might be able to recognize and realize the suicidal teenager’s thought and might be able to help the teenager. Teenage suicide can be detected at an early point if one is educated to recognize and understand the signs of suicide. But if the person does not know any of the signs, they could end up losing someone close when they could have helped prevent the suicide.
Knowing the signs and symptoms associated with suicide is a start to preventing teen suicide; however, taking action is equally as important. One action that could be helpful is to take the potentially suicidal teenager to a doctor if it appears that the teenager is pondering suicide. Another action is to communicate with the suicidal teenager. This is probably the easiest initial action to attempt. If the teenager is contemplating suicide and a person communicates with them, two things can happen. First, the person may find out more information about what is bothering the teenager. Second, the teenager may be talked out of committing suicide in the near term. Talking may be easy and helpful to solve this horrific tragedy; but the teenager may commit suicide if a person does not act immediately.
The main key to helping a suicidal teenager is to act immediately. According to Sylvia Cochran, “If you have reason to believe your child may, on whatever level, be contemplating suicide, you must take action immediately. Do not leave her/him alone until help is available. Do not adopt a wait and see attitude.” (Cochran). If a parent, friend, teacher, etc., is able to act quickly, then they may be able to prevent a possibly suicidal teenager from committing suicide.
Also if one takes action immediately, one also will be able to save themselves and others from painful thoughts resulting from the suicide of a loved one. Those thoughts can be from of guilt of not having recognized the signs of suicide, or from not having done more to prevent the tragic event. When teenagers feel like they are not wanted or are feeling rejected, it is easy for them to give up. If someone realizes this problem and acts immediately, then the suicidal teenager’s life could be spared. If a person recognizes the signs of suicide, then the person one needs to continue to watch the teenager just in case the suicidal teenager tries to commit suicide again.
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If someone has prevented a teenager from committing suicide, the suicidal teenager still might try and commit suicide again later. There are a few things that can be done to make sure the teenager is safe and reduce the chances that the teenager is thinking about suicide. The teenager’s access to methods for committing suicide must be restricted. People close to the teenager must recognize and understand the common methods of suicide so they can help to keep the suicidal teenager from gaining access to these deadly instruments. One could monitor or hide objects that can be used to commit suicide. This will not be easy, since many common household items could be used. Suicide can be committed using sharp objects, pills, ropes, guns, etc. As of 2007, the most common method of suicide among teenage girls is hanging or suffocation. Most teenage boys who commit suicide use guns (“Teen suicide rate:” 2007).
After a teenager goes through trying to commit suicide, the teenager should also be watched closely to monitor their behavior. One should watch out for behavioral issues that may have affected the teenager initially, or any recurrence of suicidal thoughts. If one watches the teenager, then that person may be able to more quickly recognize and potentially prevent a suicide attempt from happening again. Depression is one of the leading causes of suicide (Hakjaved). If the person watching the teenager finds that depression is setting in, then that person can get immediate help so the teenager has less of a chance of attempting suicide again.
If a person helps a suicidal teenager, then the teenager will see that someone does care for them and that he or she is important. The suicidal teenager may then learn that suicide is not the answer for them. If the teenager learns to comprehend the significance of the thought and act of suicide, then the teenager may eventually be spared from having his or her life go to waste for no reason.
Teenage suicide can be reduced or prevented through education. Parents should be educated and encouraged to talk to their children about suicide, and make sure their children understand that their parents are there for them. Teachers, doctors, and clergymen should not be afraid to talk to children about suicide. Young people should be taught about suicide and encouraged to act if they believe one of their friends is potentially suicidal. If there were more ways to get out a message about suicide; such as, television commercials, magazine articles, or even radio talk shows, then one would have more knowledge on the subject of suicide. If that happened then more people would be able to recognize if a teenager was thinking about suicide or was about to commit suicide.
In conclusion, suicide is an occurrence that is preventable. By recognizing the signs and symptoms of suicide and knowing the available resources, then a person could react immediately to prevent teenage suicide. If a person has knowledge about a teenager being suicidal, then that person can help the suicidal teenager and let them know that there are people out in the world that care about them. The suicidal teenager is not being rejected. It is important for teenagers to recognize the importance of acting quickly to deter their peers from committing suicide. A teenager who is thinking about suicide should talk to one of their friends or family members who have a lot of information about how to deal with suicide, so the friend or family member can help. The friends or family members of a suicidal teenager can also get the help of a counselor or doctor if things get worse. According to T. J. Glenn, M.D., F.A.P.A., F.A.A.C.A.P., “Knowledge is power. If we seek the truth, it can give us the freedom to choose and make appropriate decisions.”(Glenn).
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