April 23, 2013

The Heartbreaking Truth About Teen Suicide

A teen girl is holding up a sign asking for help  - the heartbreaking truth about teen suicide

I haven’t been writing about the many teen suicides that are still plaguing communities across the country, in every state from coast to coast.

I’ve refrained from writing about bullying and teen suicides , because I’ve said it all before, and I don’t want to be insensitive to any family members or friends of suicide victims. I know that they read this blog, and I’m very sensitive to their plight. No one is to blame in the majority of these tragic cases, and the surviving family members beat themselves up enough, and I don't want to add to their grief.

Young deaths are tragic, and the similarities between each reported suicide is incredibly sad, because in many instances, the suicide was probably preventable.

What bothers me the most when I read about these teen tragedies - are the fact that in nearly every instance - the suicide is attributed to bullying at school - and 9 times out of 10 that assertion is wrong.

Remember - I’m not making that statement to criticize or blame anyone. Academic and scientific research shows that there’s a correlation between bullying and major depressive disorders. The bullying triggers depression, and that sets off a chain of emotionally challenging events in adolescents, and they rarely have the skills to navigate these emotions.  

Verbal taunts and threats of physical violence, also contributes to feelings of low self-esteem and depression among teenagers. Many victims have reported feeling lonely, isolated, and hopeless about their future. In addition, many of these kids feel that they don’t have an adult or teacher that they can speak to or confide in.

Children are very perceptive, and are affected by conflicts at home. Whether it’s marital discord, financial difficulties, divorce, child custody fights, arguments, or moving from one place to another, these external influences contribute to a child’s stress, and can trigger a bout with depression.

A bully and the bullied are both experiencing the conflict and stress, and when you combine all of these stressors I described together, their mental and physical health are severely impaired. That impairment can lead to a child to think about suicide, and it’s important to get that child medical treatment, as soon as possible.

When we think of a child’s well being, we have to think beyond getting a kid to school on time, doing their homework, and feeding and clothing them. Their emotional well being, their mental health, and physical health are just as important.

Bullying won’t disappear overnight, and there’s no ready cure for it, though you can be rest assured that some of the best minds in the nation are working on it.

Suicide is largely preventable. If our society would stop demonizing people with mental health problems, and we could remove the social stigma surrounding treatment, everyone would benefit. We’d have less suicides and live among more well-adjusted and happy people.

Parents and teachers have to remain vigilant, and pay close attention to the mental health of kids in their charge. That’s not easy, but you can talk to your doctor about it if you’re unsure of what that means.

We have to keep speaking out, and demand that our schools are being proactive in establishing anti-bullying policies and programs.

Losing a child to suicide is unacceptable. Let’s keep talking about the symptoms, because that will lead to a cure.

There were 4 teen suicides widely reported over the last couple weeks, and my heart goes out to their families, and they’re in my thoughts and prayers.

RIP Nigel Hardy, 13
Palmdale, California

RIP Audrie Pott, 15
Saratoga, California,

Danville, New Hampshire

Halifax, Nova Scotia


The Trevor Project Lifeline for teens is staffed 24/7, and if you or someone you know is depressed or contemplating suicide, call  866-488-7386.

TeenLine online is operated by teens for teens, and teenagers can call them at 800-852-8336, or find them online by clicking here.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number is 1-800-273-8255.

I consulted the “Families for Depression Awareness” website, the PsychCentral website, and the Teen Help website, for research and facts.


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