“The most authentic things about us is our capacity to create, to overcome, to endure, to transform, to love and to be greater than our suffering.” -Ben Okri
When a teen takes their own life, it hits my heart very hard. Teens should feel like the world is their oyster with endless possibilities in front of them. Perhaps they’ll get married and have kids, travel the world, become a teacher or an international spy, lead a simple farm life, or live in a bustling city. Emotions, decisions, and self-discovery can sometimes be overwhelming for teens, though. They feel alone and isolated despite parents and friends who love them and care about them. Why do they choose ending their life rather than continuing to fight the fight?
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, suicide is the third leading cause of death among 10-14 year olds. Let’s do our best to prevent these needless deaths by getting the facts. Here are some signs to look for that could indicate suicide.
- Talking about suicide
- Feelings of worthlessness, guilt, shame
- Fascination with death
- Decline in schoolwork
- Withdrawing from social circle/family
- Saying goodbye
- Giving away prized possessions
- Increased drug or alcohol use, general reckless behavior
- Sense of calm after a long period of the above behaviors
Now that we know what to look for, what do we do?
- Speak to the person directly if you know them well. Let them know that you have noticed that they seem very sad or that they have noticed they have been pretty down lately.
- Ask them if something has happened to them that made them sad or upset.
- Let them know that you are there for them.
- Help them call into a suicide hotline
- Remind them that things will get better and that feelings change from day to day.
- Have them promise you that if they feel like committing suicide, that they will call you or another designated person
- If you don’t know the person well, reach out to their parents, friends, or to school personnel. Give them as much information as possible including the warning signs that you have noticed.
- Remind yourself that you are going to do what you can, but that you are not in charge or responsible for this person’s ultimate decisions
If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide or feeling extremely depressed, please call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-784-2433 or you can chat at crisischat.org.
Please know that you matter and that you are important.
Sheri, Teen Wise