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Menstuff® has compiled information on the issue of Teen Suicide. If you are crisis, 1st call 911 while you're looking in the front of your local yellow pages for the number of the local suicide prevention hotline. If you can't get through to either of those, click on Emergency Numbers. Also check out www.virtualcity.com/youthsuicide for information on youth suicide, for gay youth suicide check out www.sws.soton.ac.uk/gay-youth-suicide and www.metanoia.org/suicide contains conversations and writings for suicidal persons to read.
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Concerning Teen Suicide - Free
It's Gets Better
The Warning Signs and Major
Risk Factors of Teenage Suicide
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and Suicide Coping with
Traumatic Events and Suicide
Coping with Traumatic Events
Youth and elderly suicides are on the increase in the US. And, according to The World Health Organization (WHO) over 786,000 people committed suicide around the world in 1997. This is an effective suicide rate of around 10.7 per 100,000 population per year. To put this statistic in perspective, that is the equivalent of one suicide every forty seconds, somewhere in the world.
Suicide is the ninth leading cause of death in the US with 31,204 deaths recorded in 1995. This approximates to around one death every seventeen minutes. There are more suicides than homicides each year in the US.
From 1952 to 1992, the incidence of suicide among teens and young adults tripled. Today, it is the third leading cause of death for teenagers aged 15-19 (after motor vehicle accidence and unintentional injury). Two-thirds of all suicides under 25 were committed with firearms (accounts for most of the increase in suicides from 1980 to 1992). The second most common method was hanging, third was poisoning. Suicide is increasing, particularly for those under 14 and in those over 65, while not the leading cause of death, the suicide rate is extremely high.
Young men commit suicide successfully at a higher rate
than women in all 30 countries listed below. In the US, the
ratio between men and women was 4.1:1 while in young people
15-24 the average ratio is 5.5:1 and the ratio increases
with age within this group. In white males over 85, the
suicide rate was 73.6/100,000 in 1993. For more
What Is It?
Of all the complications of untreated depression, suicide is the most tragic. It has often been called "a permanent solution to a temporary problem". In the midst of depression it can begin to look like the only option left.
Why Do People Do It?
Depressed people who take their own lives do so because they are enduring unbearable psychological pain and perceive that there are no more options available to them.
Physical pain can also trigger suicidal feelings, but pain of psychological origin can be just as, if not more, intense.
Who Commits Suicide
Some distinction has been made between "suicide attempters" and "suicide completers". Suicide attempters are likely to be female and generally attempt suicide by taking an overdose of medication. Suicide completers, by contrast, are more often male and tend to use more lethal means. Both genders, however, may fall within either of these groups. Suicide threats should always been taken very seriously. They are a cry for help.
The primary risk factors that have been identified for completed suicides are major depression, substance abuse, severe personality disorders, male gender, older age, living alone, physical illness, and previous suicide attempts. Chronic pain and illness have also been associated with suicide.
Suicide is most prevalent among the young and the elderly. It is the leading cause of death among those aged 15-24. Among those young people who attempt suicide, eventually anywhere between 0.1 and 10% of these will complete the act.
For more information about the epidemiology of suicide, the Task Force on Life and the Law has provided an excellent resource called When Death is Sought. Although this online book deals primarily with euthanasia, it gives some valuable information about suicide in general.
The Suicide Awareness/Voices of Education (SA/VE) Website lists the following danger signs:
Talking or joking about suicide. Statements about being reunited with a deceased loved one.
Statements about hopelessness, helplessness, or worthlessness. Example: "Life is useless." "Everyone would be better off without me." "It doesn't matter. I won't be around much longer anyway." "I wish I could just disappear."
Preoccupation with death. Example: recurrent death themes in music, literature, or drawings. Writing letters or leaving notes referring to death or "the end".
Suddenly happier or calmer.
Loss of interest in things one cares about.
Unusual visiting or calling people one cares about - saying their good-byes.
Giving possessions away, making arrangements, setting one's affairs in order.
Self-destructive behavior (alcohol/drug abuse, self-injury or mutilation, promiscuity).
Risk-taking behavior (reckless driving/excessive speeding, carelessness around bridges, cliffs or balconies, or walking in front of traffic).
Having several accidents resulting in injury. Close calls or brushes with death.
Obsession with guns or knives.
The person who is depressed enough to be thinking of suicide needs immediate professional help. Do not feel afraid to bring up the topic with your teen. Ask questions about their plans. Those who are passively suicidal or have only vague ideas of wanting to die should still be taken very seriously and arrangements made for them to see a psychiatrist. If your teen seems in immediate danger of a suicide attempt, call 911 or your local emergency room and ask for assistance. Because medication and therapy take some time to become effective, it may be necessary for your child to be hospitalized for their own protection.
During a crisis situation, do not leave them alone. Do not minimize their feelings. It is not important that the problem seems trivial or easily solved to you. What counts is how severe the problem seems to them. Do not treat your teen as if they are simply seeking attention. Suicidal behavior is an indication of deep psychological pain. They are asking for your help. Reassure your child that they are not a burden to you and they are not weak. Praise them for having the courage to ask for help.
As alert as you may be for the signs of suicidality in your teen, it may be that they hide their feelings from you or feel afraid to approach you. The Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention Program is dedicated to helping bridge this communication gap. Giving your child one of their Yellow Ribbon Cards if a great way to open up a dialogue with them. It lets them know you are there for them if they need you and gives them a simple way to communicate with you when words are difficult to find.
Gay men are six times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight counterparts and the numbers increase exponentially during the holidays. This story appears in the Dec/Jan 99 issue of Genre and examines the issues behind why they are taking their own lives, and offers some solutions to the holiday blues. (Also see our own # 7 Happy Holidaze A report from P-FLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) states that in a study of 5,000 gay men and women, 35 percent of gay men and 38 percent of lesbians have considered or attempted suicide. The statistics are even higher among gay teens: The Department of Health study indicates that gay youth are up to six times more likely to attempt suicide than straight teens, and gay teenagers account for up to 30 percent of all teenage suicides in the nation.
"Far more women suffer from depression that men do, so it seems odd that women would commit suicide at only one-fourth the rate of men. The key difference between the two sexes may be that women talk out their problems. George E. Murphy, an emeritus professor of psychiatry at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, says that women may be protected because they are more likely to consider the consequences of suicide on family members or others. Women also approach personal problems differently than men and more often seek help long before they reach the point of considering suicide. 'As a result, women get better treatment for their depressions,' Murphy says. To reduce the rate of suicide in men, Murphy suggests that physicians should be alert for risk factors in men and refer them into treatment. Writing in the Journal of Comprehensive Psychiatry, he says that identifying men at risk require mental health professionals to recognize that depressed men may understate emotional distress or difficulty with their problems." Black Men, 3/99. Source: HealthScout, www.healthscout.com
It's important for people with suicidal feelings to let themselves be assisted in overcoming deep depression. It's also a good idea to talk about your feelings with friends. No man is an island and there's nothing wrong with leaning on people who love you in times of need.
Prevention Services available locally. Dial 411 for your
city's Suicide Prevention Hotline, or try your local Gay
& Lesbian Center, which offers referrals for
counseling, domestic violence and suicide prevention.
Each year, thousands of American teenagers are diagnosed with clinical depression. If ignored or poorly treated, it can be a devastating illness for adolescents and their families. A new book, Understanding Teenage Depression, provides the latest scientific research on this serious condition and the most up-to-date information on its treatment. Drawing on her many years of experience as a psychiatrist working with teenagers, Dr. Maureen Empfield answers the questions parents and teens have about depression. Maureen Empfield, M.D., is director of psychiatry at Northern Westchester Hospital Center in Mt. Kisco, New York, and assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. She is the author or coauthor of more than a dozen publications for the professional market. Nicholas Bakalar is a New York-based writer and editor.
Although it is almost impossible to predict precisely which teenager will attempt suicide, there are warning signs that parents can look for. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry has assembled this list of indications. If one or more of these signs occur, parents should talk to their teenager and seek professional help.
In high-risk patientsthat is patients who have
threatened or attempted suicidethere are four risk
factors that account for more than 80% of the risk for
suicide: major depression, bipolar disorder, a lack of
previous mental health treatment, and the availability of
firearms in the home. If these four problems were solved,
most suicides would be prevented.
Note that religious and social strictures against suicide may result in some underreporting in some nations. i.e., China is believed to represent over 46% of the suicides in the world. And, no information is currently available on Denmark and France.
Source: WHO, World Health Statistics
Annual 1993 and 1994, 1994 and 1995, Center for Disease
Control, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control;
National Institute for Mental Health.
Receiving psychological or emotional counseling can help teens who are suicidal cope with their problems, but most teens in trouble don't get those services, say researchers from San Francisco, California, and Melbourne, Australia.
President Bush signed into law a bill authorizing million in grants aimed at preventing suicide among young people. The law authorizes $82 million over three years to provide grants to states, Indian tribes, colleges and universities to develop youth suicide prevention and intervention programs. It emphasizes screening programs that identify mental illness in children as young as sixth-graders, and provides referrals for community-based treatment and training for child care professionals. The money for the grants has not been fully appropriated yet, however. According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 3,000 children and young adults take their lives each year, making suicide the third-leading cause of death between the ages of 10 and 24. Each year, more that 600,000 young people require medical attention for a suicide attempt.
The rate of suicide by gun among black male teen-agers nearly quadrupled between 1979 and 1994 before falling off somewhat in the late 1990s, according to a study.
We can't tear out a single page from our life, but we can throw the whole book into the fire. - George Sand
"If you're feeling suicidal this would be an ideal time to try what you always wanted to try but were afraid to try."
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