This is not to be put off, this is the life of a child. Suicide in teenagers has gone up 3 times over in the past 10 years. Did you know that many times, they perform this heartbreaking act in the room next to where their parents are watching TV. what does that say to you? Bullying, Cutting, Drug/Alcohol Use and Dangerous Sexual Experimentation are only a few ways that these beautiful children are dealing with their pain and loneliness.
According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, youth are among the highest risk populations for suicide. In Canada, suicide accounts for 24 percent of all deaths among 15-24 year olds and 16 percent among 16-44 year olds. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for Canadians between the ages of 10 and 24.
Here are some the Myths and Realities researched by The Canadian Mental Health Association
Myth: Young people rarely think about suicide.
Reality: Teens and suicide are more closely linked than adults might expect. In a survey of 15,000 grade 7 to 12 students in British Columbia, 34% knew of someone who had attempted or died by suicide; 16% had seriously considered suicide; 14% had made a suicide plan; 7% had made an attempt and 2% had required medical attention due to an attempt.
Myth: Talking about suicide will give a young person the idea, or permission, to consider suicide as a solution to their problems.
Reality: Talking calmly about suicide, without showing fear or making judgments, can bring relief to someone who is feeling terribly isolated. A willingness to listen shows sincere concern; encouraging someone to speak about their suicidal feelings can reduce the risk of an attempt.
Myth: Suicide is sudden and unpredictable.
Reality: Suicide is most often a process, not an event. Eight out of ten people who die by suicide gave some, or even many, indications of their intentions.
Myth: Suicidal youth are only seeking attention or trying to manipulate others.
Reality: Efforts to manipulate or grab attention are always a cause for concern. It is difficult to determine if a youth is at risk of suicide All suicide threats must be taken seriously.
Myth: Suicidal people are determined to die.
Reality: Suicidal youth are in pain. They don’t necessarily want to die; they want their pain to end. If their ability to cope is stretched to the limit, or if problems occur together with a mental illness, it can seem that death is the only way to make the pain stop.
Myth: A suicidal person will always be at risk.
Reality: Most people feel suicidal at some time in their lives. The overwhelming desire to escape from pain can be relieved when the problem or pressure is relieved. Learning effective coping techniques to deal with stressful situations can help.
What are the signs
Most people who consider suicide are not determined to die. They are undecided about whether to live or die, so they may take risks and leave it to someone else to save them. Warning signs may be their way of asking for help or revealing the seriousness of their situation. Warning signs can be very subtle. They can also be as obvious as someone saying, ‘You won’t be seeing me any more.’
Here are some common warning signs:
- sudden change in behaviour (for better or worse)
- withdrawal from friends and activities,
- lack of interest
- increased use of alcohol and other drugs
- recent loss of a friend, family member or parent, especially if they died by suicide
- conflicting feelings or a sense of shame about being gay or straight
- mood swings, emotional outbursts, high level of irritability or aggression
- feelings of hopelessness
- preoccupation with death, giving away valued possessions
- talk of suicide: eg. ‘no one cares if I live or die’
- making a plan or increased risk taking
- writing or drawing about suicide (in a diary, for example)
- ‘hero worship’ of people who have died by suicide
Remember, there is no ultimate list of warning signs. It may be right to be concerned about someone simply because their behaviour is out of character. Sudden shifts in a person’s attitude or actions can alert friends to potential problems.
What can you do
The only person who can stop a person from considering suicide is the suicidal person. But you can help them to reconsider and seek other solutions. The most important thing is to listen. Take your friend seriously.
People who share their suicide plans often demand secrecy from their friends. But they’re usually hoping that their friend will stop them by getting help. When a life is at risk, requests for confidentiality must be ignored.
Don’t be afraid to be the first to mention suicide. Talking about suicide openly does not increase the risk. Ask if your friend is suicidal. Bringing the subject into the open can bring relief.
You can help by:
- really listening, without judging not challenging, or becoming angry and shocked
- finding ways to break through the silence and secrecy
- asking if they have plans or have made prior attempts
- helping them find ways to lessen their pain
- helping them see positive possibilities in their future
- guiding them to other sources of help as soon as possible, such as a counsellor or other trusted adult, or community crisis lines listed in your telephone book
No one can solve another person’s problems. But sympathy and support can help; knowing that someone else has faced similar tough times and survived can help a suicidal person see a light at the end of a very dark tunnel.