According to the National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center, “teen suicide is the third leading cause of death among teenagers — almost 2,000 teens kill themselves each year.” Depression is one of the leading causes of teen suicide. It is estimated that “over 90% of teen suicide victims have a mental disorder, such as depression, and/or a history of alcohol or drug abuse.” The National Institute of Mental Health considers depression “to be a real medical illness and it’s treatable.”
What drives a teen to commit suicide? What is so horribly wrong in their lives that ending it is the only alternative? There are risk factors involved in teen suicide: Peer pressure, low self-esteem, dysfunctional family, stress, and access to drugs, guns, and an unyielding desire to make the pain disappear.
Teen suicide has and is becoming a pandemic in our country and around the world. Our youth has become entrenched in an ideology doled out by those who seek to control, persuade and coerce our teenagers. At the same time, communication between parent and child has become, in most situations, non-existent. This leaves teens to fend for themselves in areas they are too young to understand and too eager to become engaged in.
Our music, movies, and educational system have let down our teens in the most rudimentary way. Our teens lack guidance and care. They are the fabric of our society which has been shredding for years and have been reduced to a statistic. Our child services, our family courts, our teens’ caregivers have offered nothing to assert the importance of self-worth. Over the years, the make-up of the “family” has dramatically changed. The two-parent household has, in some cases, changed to one. A teen’s family could be his gang members who, on a daily basis, feed into the destruction of that teen. Morality has become passé. Many youth have become self-absorbed in an underworld of hatred and self-loathing.
Have all teenagers talked or even thought about suicide? No. However, the statistics are frightening. Who is responsible for this outbreak? Some would agree parents should take a stronger role in their child’s life from the outset. A teenager doesn’t suddenly choose to die unless something terribly wrong has pushed him/her over the edge. We cannot allow them to choose that end game.
Teenagers do become depressed, alone, angry, hopeless and helpless. As parents, as friends, as educators, as guardians of this precious commodity – we cannot allow them to succeed in what they think may be in their best interest. They must be given a reason to live, to love, to become needed and useful members of our society. We, as adults, must educate and interact with our youth in a positive, caring and thoughtful way to ensure they have the proper tools with which to grow and gain empowerment. How can we do anything less?
Contact the Statewide Suicide Hotline at 1-800-564-2120 for more information.