I am writing about a topic that is probably more fearful than just talking about death overall; teen suicide. For both males and females, ages 15-24, suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death. Those statistics are alarming and as I have a teen in the house, scary.
One colleague told me a 15 year old recently committed suicide in their community. This summer I learned of another young male, early 20’s who committed suicide; this one was a bit closer to home. To me, this is sad that one so young would even think about suicide. Youth today have so much going for them that my generation did not. Cell phones, smart phones, social media, laptops, tablets, video games, but all this technology comes with responsibility and a price tag, and when I say price tag I am not talking monetarily, I am talking about the burden of it.
Youth are on all sorts of social media from Facebook to Pinterest to Instagram to Twitter, to WhatsApp to texting-all instead of speaking by landline or in person. When I grew up you used a rotary phone or perhaps a push button phone that was connected to a cord in the wall to call someone or you spoke in person. Video games were Atari or Pacman. I am probably dating myself here a bit….TV was 5 channels top because cable was too expensive back then and if the Presidential Address was on, forget it! You either watched that or nothing that night!
I sometimes think all this technology is awesome, but is it? I grew up in simpler times. If you were bored you found something to do or your parents found you something to do. Kids played outside, they created forts in the house, had pillow fights; you get the idea.
I did not have to worry about cyberbullying as a kid or teenager. The first cellphone I had was connected to my car and only worked there; I think I was a freshman in university.
Times have certainly changed. Technology has grown by leaps and bounds. Youth, parents, schools need to learn more about it, teach about it, have discussions with youth and teens. Bullying is not okay. Cyberbullying is not okay.
The pressures kids face today, personally I never had to worry about it or deal with it. Entrance exams for public high school? What? I just went to my local high school because it was in the area I grew up in. No other option. Here in Montreal, public, semi-private or private? Charter schools which are public and enforce an entrance exam-such pressure! These exams are in grade 6 and are occurring now. If not accepted right away based on the exam score, the child may get called in for an interview and the child better shine in this interview and fit the schools vision or forget it! Private schools that cost 5k, 10k, 15k or more per year… I would rather my kids have that money, if I should have it, for university.
If you have not watched the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why, you should, and you should make your teen watch it. I think every school should be showing this and having discussions with teens. It brings up what is really happening and how clued out adults are! It is one of the rare times I can honestly say the series is so much better than the book. I watched it and I was riveted from the very first episode and am patiently waiting for season 3. It brings to life visually on such a graphic level what I read in the book. It covers the current issues of bullying, cyberbullying, sexual assault, rape, popular kids vs. not popular kids, and more.
Depression and anxiety are huge for teens and young adults. These are mental health issues that can affect any age group and do, but teens I think even more so.
Sometimes all it takes is one concerned person. One person who reaches out and asks questions. One person who notices and cares. You could be that person. Education, awareness raising, advocacy for seminars, conferences, and more for teachers, other helping professionals, parents and for youth/teens to attend. Join the ranks of those that believe suicide prevention is super important. Join the ranks of adults who set rules, ask questions and care. You do not want it to be your kid or one you know and if it is, do you want to look back and say, ‘But they seemed fine. I did not see anything to worry about.’
In the article, Parents blindsided by daughter’s suicide hope her story helps save others. This is the goal of Alexandra Valoris’s parents. Just weeks after a family ski vacation, the 17-year-old high school junior, straight-A student, class officer, and robotics whiz made her bed, tidied her room and walked to a highway overpass in Grafton, Massachusetts. She jumped off the edge. She left behind journals which depicted 200 pages of self-loathing and despair. It was such a sharp and confusing contrast to the girl they thought was their happy eldest child.
Help me in raising awareness about teen suicide which is a very important issue. Share your thoughts in the comment section and let’s have a discussion.