I came home to find my son very disturbed about his friend’s sister whom at the young age of 14, committed suicide. Two weeks later, another friend ended his life at the age of 17. It seems like the more people you talk to about teen suicide, their stories become so eerily familiar.
I asked my son about his friend and if there were any signs contributing to his actions? He knew he was having difficulty with his grades and was a little socially awkward. There were no other clues to signify his behavior. All of his other friends believed he was generally a happy kid dealing with life’s challenges and problems.
What in the world is going on with our youth? There life is just beginning and yet there is a feeling of hopelessness, pain and frustration. Our teens are living troubled lives and there are no boundaries as to its’ next victim. Suicide targets all races and has no socioeconomic barriers. Rich or poor, the results are the same.
Are our expectations too high? Are we listening to our kids? Why are they choosing to check out rather than check in and seek help? Are schools doing enough to help those children in need? Broken homes and broken families may be part of the problem, however, there is much more to their stories of discontent. During the teen years, there is peer pressure and a desire to fit into certain groups. Poor relationships, bullying, and social isolation, is also part of the pressures that teens face day to day. If that’s not enough, the expectations of their grades and career choices upon graduation are also a contributing factor. Trying to conform and fit into this socially constructed system makes some teens feel overwhelmed.
As I contemplated what took place recently, I wondered how many of these teens turn to God in moments of intense stress. Do they know the Lord? Has anyone shown them the way to gain inner strength? Do they have any coping skills that will help them get through the tough times? Are we supplying them with the right tools to build a better life? So many questions and not enough answers.
Prevention is a key factor. We need to look out for signs of hopelessness and despair and take action. We were all teens once upon a time and we should all remember the difficulties we experienced. However some of us are able to go through the fire and persevere. Others depending on their circumstance need a little help from teachers, friends, parents and doctors. As a community we can do much more to help teen suicide even if it’s just a word of encouragement to help those who are suffering the most. It’s a complex and disturbing condition and can seek out any home. Be aware, and recognize contributing factors of stress and depression. Sometimes their actions and words can’t be dismissed as just being a teen. It might be more serious if you look beneath the surface. Seek help whenever possible. If they won’t talk to you, find someone they are willing to talk with in order to have an outlet for guidance.
- Suicide is a silent epidemic and is the third leading cause of death for ages 10-24
- 1 in 5 teens had thought about suicide
- For every teen suicide death, experts estimate there are 10 other teen suicide attempts
Prevention Hotline…1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433)