This article appeared in the West Plaza Neighborhood Association Newsletter.
Often when I greet a teenager in passing, they look surprised. A person who had been homeless once told me that the worst part of that period of his life was that rarely did anyone acknowledge his presence. This caused more suffering than the physical discomfort and hunger.
Suicide is now the second leading cause of death for teenagers in America. Adolescents experience pressure to fit in, do well in school, and be responsible.
What contributes to teen suicide? Here are some factors quoted from Kids Health.
- a psychological disorder, especially depression, bipolar disorder, and alcohol and drug use (in fact, about 95% of people who die by suicide have a psychological disorder at the time of death)
- feelings of distress, irritability, or agitation
- feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness that often accompany depression
- a previous suicide attempt
- a family history of depression or suicide
- emotional, physical, or sexual abuse
- lack of a support network, poor relationships with parent or peers, and feelings of social isolation
- dealing with bisexuality or homosexuality in an unsupportive family or community or hostile school environment
How Can You Help?
You can help. In passing, just say “hi” and acknowledge their presence, just like you would anyone. Let them see you see them. Teens are people like you and me.
If you or someone you know has lost someone to suicide, Suicide Awareness Survivor Support has meetings through the metro area.
Check out my blog for more tips on living.
Please note, this article first appeared in the West Plaza Neighborhood Association Newsletter, January-February 2017 on page 4.