Many, especially adolescents, have regarded suicide as a way out of difficulties, an end to their misery. Suffering, along with conditions such as opioid and alcohol dependence, can appear to offer suicidal ideation opportunities. Sadly, as many teens say, there is seldom an answer to issues. This report evaluates the evidence and tries to figure out why and what can be done to control youth suicide is on the rise.
Suicide in the USA is a major cause of death, especially among young people. It is a recognised public health concern worldwide (US National Library of Medicine, UNLM). Suicide, with the aim of dying, is described as a self-inflected, fatal act. One must have the concept, accept the idea and settle on suicide as a potential way before suicide is successful, and then use a lethal tool to execute his plan (Miller 7). However, not all suicide attempts are successful and these should be taken seriously by the adults concerned. Teenagers with prior suicide attempts are more at risk of more attempts, or actually death by suicide.
18 per cent of young males and 4 per cent of young females attempt suicide in America. For young males and 5% for females, the Canadian concentrations stand at 24 percent. The Canadian suicide rate among teens, in contrast, is now one of the largest in the industrial world. In 2007, UNLM figures found that 14.5 percent of students in 9th to 12th grade registered ideation of suicide, while 6.9 percent reported attempted suicide during the previous year. The suicide rate of young men in the UK is 12%, whereas that of young people is registered at 3%. (Tyyska 219). In the United States, the rates are more troubling, with researchers estimating that suicide ranks seventh among the leading causes of teen deaths. It is projected that 1 out of 10 adolescents develop a suicide strategy per year, 1 out of 7 students in high school have a severe suicidal ideation, and 1 out of 14 making suicidal attempts, some contributing to hospitalisation. Many teenage adults commit suicide or go through it effectively in their own households, where several of these approaches are easily available and accessible.
Victims of suicide perform the act by multiple means. For a long time, weapons have been used for suicide by young people in the United States as they are more likely to be readily available. In the victim’s house, they are far more likely to be identified. This and hanging are more deadly than suffocation, wrist cutting and opioid poisoning, as Miller writes (15). The approach selected is informed by the state of mind of the victim; preparation and accessibility; and familiarity, expertise and skill of the victim.
Several causes may be linked to the increase in suicide cases among adolescents. Depression is a significant cause of suicide, although on its own, it seldom happens. Tyyska suggests that drug misuse, personality illness, fear, and eating disorders are typically followed by (221). The survivor feels dejected and helpless as well. Excess worthlessness, elevated guilt, suicidal feelings and visual or auditory disturbances are other signs of depression. Studies by UNLM have shown that up to 60 % of young suicide victims usually have depression at the time of death, while at the time of attempt, 40 to 80 % are diagnosed with depression. Up to 85 % of patients with major depression harbor suicide ideation, 32 % attempt suicide during adolescent, 20 % make several suicidal attempts, while 2.5 % to 7 % commit suicide by young adulthood. It has been linked to loneliness, low self esteem, peer rejection and other physiological and psychological conditions that could lead to suicide ideation.
In spite of being in a family setting, instability in a teenager’s family life could lead to suicidal ideation and attempts. Social and economic isolation combined with absence of support from either parent may adversely affect the adolescent (Tyyska 221). These may be due to family discords, divorce or death of one or both parents, mistreatment and poor relationship with parents. A suicidal history within the family also increases the likelihood of the teenager attempting or successfully committing suicide. Teenagers with parents who have suffered mood disorders and attempted suicide are also at risk of committing suicide. Due to the stress they endure, they may engage in alcohol and drug use, further increasing the risk compared to those who don’t. There is a strong relationship between heavy drinking, drug abuse and suicide attempts among adolescents (UNLM). Drinking and drug use especially when one’s mood is low increases the risk of suicide attempts. Studies have shown that adolescents who frequently participate in heavy episodic drinking are 2.6 times is prone to attempt suicide than others who have attempted suicide don’t.
Moreover, bullying affects many teenagers and could adversely have negative effects on them. It may involve indirect aggression, where the victim is subjected to physical and verbal violence like hitting and teasing, or indirect aggression, where one experiences manipulative acts like intimidation and extortion (Taylor Francis Online). Bullying may be from the peer group an adolescent identifies with. Since many teenagers relate better with their peers than their parents and teachers, humiliation from them is bottled up, only for the teenager to later seek a way out through suicide. Cyber bullying is also another cause, especially because it extends beyond school hours, as adolescents have numerous ways of connection with each other due to technological advances. It is possible through texts on phones, emails and postings on social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and MySpace.
Additionally, the sexual orientation a youth identifies with increases the risk of suicide. Youth who are in same-sex relationships are more likely to be suicidal than those who are not. Gays, bisexuals and lesbians are constantly affected by family and societal victimization (Tyyska 221). They may have difficulties dealing with the stigma associated with their sexual orientation especially during adolescence when their sexuality is a fundamental issue in their lives. The resulting feelings of rejection and loneliness they are left with eventually lead them to depression and eventually suicide as a way out. The writer notes that other forms of discrimination that increase the risk include those based on religion, race and sex. In a study done by UNLM in Massachusetts, youths with bisexual, lesbian or gay orientations were found to have attempted suicide over the previous year. Similarly, exposure to sexual and physical abuse as a child often leads to poor mental health development, which may lead to suicidal ideation. Child sexual abuse has more adverse effects on an adolescent than physical abuse. When sexual abuse is perpetrated by someone well known to the victim such as a family member, the risks are more, as well as repeated incidences of sexual abuse. Witnessing and being victims of domestic violence also increases the risk.
In response to all this, it is clear that teenagers who have suicide ideation are usually in pain, and suffer as a result of the pain. As Miller explains, suffering is as a result of either emotional or physical pain (23). Involved are our thoughts and emotions and the framing they do to our experiences. But the writer also points out that suffering is only one exhibit to pain. Suicidal individuals usually have tried varied and multiple channels to end their suffering without success and as such view death as the only way out. Emotional and psychological suffering should thus be worked on by the personnel involved, in an attempt to reduce suicidal behavior (Miller 24). Suicidal youth should actively be involved in forums where they are free to express their worries as opposed to handling them alone. Private sessions should especially be encouraged so that the teenager feels secure. Suicide has been labeled at the top of most preventable deaths, as victims do not really want to die but the pain to go away.
There are protective factors that can keep an individual from becoming suicidal. They serve as a cushion against the effects of the negative events surrounding them and prevent the initial onset of risk factors by helping the teenager understand that the family is always there when they are going through tough times. Establishing and teaching good strong morals within the household also goes a long way. Parents should endeavor to maintain stability within the family and maintain steady open communication with teenagers. They can also interrupt the damaging process of a risk factor in the teenager’s life by reducing the effects for instance by taking legal action against abusive or alcoholic parents or relatives (Barnes, Golden, and Peterson 88).
Individually, one can strive to develop a positive temperament, as opposed to constantly having a negative attitude. Barnes, Golden, and Peterson note that an individual will build resiliency when they exhibit positive attitude towards their daily routines (88). As such, a teenager that is attached to the family, committed to their school work and is involved within the community has a stronger foundation than one who is detached. The attachment also allows close individuals to recognize when a teenager for instance has mood or attitude changes. Thus they have a platform where they can talk about any problems or difficulties they may be experiencing with people they view as most approachable either within the family, school or community.
Teenage suicide has increased in the recent years at an alarming rate. This is due to factors such as depression, peer influence, alcohol and drug abuse, physical and sexual abuse by parents or close relatives and even the internet. A lot can be done to reduce teenage suicide for instance proving a good family setting where the teenager feels free to talk about their problems. The teenager can also positively involve themselves with other people at school and within the community.
- Barnes, D. H, Robert Golden and Fred Peterson. The Truth About Suicide. New York, NY: Infobase Publishing, 2010. Print.
- Cash, J. S and Jeffrey Bridge. “Epidemiology of Youth Suicide and Suicidal Behavior.” US National Library of Medicine. 21.5 (2009): 613-619. Web. 12 Mar. 2014 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2885157/
- Hinduja, S and Justin Patchin. “Bullying, Cyberbullying and Suicide.” Taylor Francis Online. 14.5 (2010). Web. 12 Mar. 2014 http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13811118.2010.494133#.UyA0qc58Uwo
- Miller, D. N. Child and Adolescent Behavior: School-Based Prevention, Assessment and Intervention. New York, NY: Guilford Press, 2011. Print.
- Tyyska, V. Youth and Society: The Long and Winding Road. 2nd ed. Toronto, Ontario: Canadian Scholar’s Press, 2009. Print.