Suicide - the word elicits such feelings as apprehension or denial. It tends to fall into the category of those subjects we do not talk about. Yet, suicide is a common occurrence in our day, especially among teenagers. It rates as one of the leading causes of death among teenage youth along with traffic accidents and homicides.
Suicide - the word elicits such feelings as apprehension or denial. It tends to fall into the category of those subjects we do not talk about. Yet, suicide is a common occurrence in our day, especially among teenagers. It rates as one of the leading causes of death among teenage youth along with traffic accidents and homicides. It's so common that you are likely to know some acquaintance who has died as a result of suicide. It's important to realize whether you have considered suicide or you are trying to help someone with suicidal thoughts, you are not alone.
Experts have many theories as to the causes of suicide. Most of them are based on the inability of kids to cope with what appears to be insurmountable stress. The stage of adolescence itself carries many anxieties initiated by such things as emotional mood swings, self-doubts, the search for identity, and the need for peer acceptance.
Pressures may arise from the family. The lack of quality time spent with family members may lead to feelings of isolation, alienation, or rejection on the part of the teenager. Lack of rules or restraints can leave a child feeling as if his parents don't care for him. Divorce can cause anxiety and leave him feeling responsible for the split between Mom and Dad. Remarriage and the joining together of two or more families can leave a child feeling lost among a group of strangers.
Competitive pressures can arise from one's failure to reach perceived expectations. The need to get good grades to please parents or peers, or perhaps the initiation into a job market that has no more room, can leave a teenager feeling useless and lost in a society that has gone on without him.
Another possible cause for suicide is one's need to feel powerful or in control. A suicide attempt may be a means of gaining the attention of someone who has previously ignored him. On the other hand, it may serve as a means for punishing someone who is in a position of authority, akin to a small child holding his breath.
Whatever the cause, the outcome will be the same. The individual slips into depression, feeling hapless, helpless, and hopeless. There appears to be no way out of the depressing situation other than suicide.
Those people who contemplate suicide unconsciously cry out for help by exhibiting behavior that is uncommon to then. Some of these warning signs are fatigue, loss of sleep, sudden loss of appetite, mood changes, a significant decline in schoolwork, heavy smoking, writing lots of letters to friends, or the needless breaking of friendships. Initial use or increased abuse of drugs or alcohol, giving away of prized possessions, the loss of a sense of humor, an increased tendency to cry, the loss of interest in usually enjoyable activities, the loss of self-control or anger, confusion, personal devaluation, and feelings of guilt, sadness, or emptiness are signs of extreme depression, and to the teenager thinking of suicide these will often appear in groups. Unlike the "sad and blue times" everyone experiences, the potential suicides experience these feelings more and more until the intensity makes these kids appear differently from what they normally are.
It's important that any potential suicide be treated as a serious threat. That means dealing with it immediately. The following steps will provide you with the means to help someone in this situation.
- Talk openly and frankly about the person's problems. Often a compassionate, listening ear can provide healing to one who is overwhelmed by the pressures of life.
- Determine the seriousness of the individual's suicidal thoughts. Has he determined a plan or a time when he will take his life? Often a potential suicide will feel some relief at having planned his action, knowing his problems will soon end. Professional help should immediately be found.
- Provide alternatives to his problems other than suicide. Sometimes one can be so caught up in suicidal thoughts that he fails to see other options open to him. Make suggestions.
- Assign him small tasks to keep him busy. Though this is no solution, it does temporarily take his mind off of himself and his problems.
If problems cannot be resolved after initially confronting the potential suicide, seek professional help. This may mean contacting a crisis hot line or suicide prevention center, a community mental health program, the juvenile department, the police, or the clergy of a local church. The important thing is to let someone else help in this situation. It's a matter of life and death.