By: Nicole Lipski
I believe everyone is familiar with suicide; it's when an individual harms themselves with the intent of dying. What people may not realize is how common it is among adolescents. According to the CDC, "In 2020, an estimated 12.2 million American adults seriously thought about suicide, 3.2 million planned a suicide attempt, and 1.2 million attempted suicide." This kind of harm should not be normalized and can be prevented, but first, let's identify the facts.
What is suicide, really?
Suicide is when a person kills themselves, and a suicide attempt is when they try to deeply harm themselves but end up living. People throw around the word "suicide" a lot without really thinking. It's become really normalized, and you'll hear kids say "I want to kms, (kill myself)" after any minor inconvenience, but they may not realize why some people really feel this urge to disappear. The CDC states, " Suicide is connected to other forms of injury and violence. For example, people who have experienced violence, including child abuse, bullying, or sexual violence have a higher suicide risk." Suicide shouldn't be something to be joked about, and before using the term kids should look into the meaning.
Well then, what causes suicide to happen?
Stone Water Recovery states that the top 3 causes of suicide among teens are discouragement, rejection, and defeat. Many young people deal with a lot of negativity in their lives, and these events can greatly impact them.
An example would be a divorce. Parents play a huge part in a child's life and being separated from one of them can feel like your life is being torn apart. Typically, these feelings come in quickly and take over you. AACAP (American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry) says "Among younger children, suicide attempts are often impulsive. They may be associated with feelings of sadness, confusion, anger, or problems with attention and hyperactivity."
It's important to note that suicidal thoughts may be different for everyone, and it's best to take action as soon as possible.
Suicide doesn't just come from depression as well; there are multiple different people that have an increased chance of being suicidal, like if suicidal thoughts are genetic and runs in the family. According to Child Mind Institute, some kids have a higher risk of attempting suicide if they have had:
A prior suicide attempt
Alcohol and other substance use disorders
Struggling with sexual orientation in an environment that is not respectful or accepting of that orientation.
Lack of social support.
A victim of bullying.
Access to lethal means, like firearms and pills.
Stigma associated with asking for help.
Difficulties in getting much-needed services.
These factors can help provoke a suicide attempt. These people might need some extra help and care in their daily lives to make sure that they don't get exposed to negative influences. If they are, it is crucial to take action and help them.
How can I help?
Though it may seem hard, there are many ways to save a life. According to NASP (National Association of School Psychologists), the best ways to help someone are:
"Ask the youth directly if he or she is thinking about suicide (e.g., 'Are you thinking of suicide?').
Focus on your concern for their well-being and avoid being accusatory.
Reassure them that there is help and they will not feel like this forever.
Do not judge.
Provide constant supervision. Do not leave the youth alone.
Remove means for self-harm."
The best way to help someone is to take action sooner than later and remember to stay calm: these people are probably going through a very tough time and need care. John Hopkins medicine recommends that all parents are educated on this topic, and that they know the signs so they can interpret the situation in a way which they are able to help. They say "Keeping open communication with your teen and his or her friends gives you an opportunity to help when needed."
Incorporating positive habits into your child's daily life is also crucial. Some teens are also open about their feelings, but parents disregard it. It's important as a parent to listen to your child because they can be seeking your help, and ignoring them will simply push them more to take their own life. healthychildren.org mentions that parents should keep an eye out for these words:
"I want to die."
"I don't care anymore."
"I wonder how many people would come to my funeral?"
"Sometimes I wish I could just go to sleep and never wake up."
"Everyone would be better off without me."
"You won't have to worry about me much longer."
If you are someone thinking of suicide, don't be afraid to ask for help. Nowadays in
school, there are guidance counselors who can help with your feelings and issues and free online services where you can speak
to a professional for your own benefit. The office of Mental Health states the different programs that can help in NYC:
"New York State supported more than 10,000 school personnel trainings in 2018.
Clinician focused trainings from the Suicide Prevention – Training, Implementation, and Evaluation (SP-TIE) program of the Center for Practice Innovations.
More than 7,000 New Yorkers have received suicide prevention training in their local communities.
OMH’s Suicide Prevention Office is developing suicide prevention training for 600,000 state and county workers."
The HereToHelp website also has a great list of things that can help you cope with suicidal thoughts, such as "Remember that healing takes time. You can take as much time as you need." It's important to know that you aren't alone in this and things will get better! You serve a valuable purpose in this world.