Suicide among young people continues to be a serious issue. According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, thousands of teenagers commit suicide each year. Suicide is the third leading cause of death for 15 to 25-year olds, and the sixth leading cause of death for 5 to 14-year olds.
“Teenagers, experience strong feelings of stress, confusion, self-doubt, pressure to succeed, financial uncertainty, and other feelings while growing up. For some teenagers, divorce, the formation of a new family with stepparents and stepsiblings, or moving to a new community can be very unsettling and can intensify self-doubt. For many teens, suicide may seem like a remedy or a solution to their problems and stress,” the AACAP states on its website, aacap.org.
Jackie Rosen is the executive director for the Florida Initiative for Suicide Prevention program. She said there are three main causes of depression:
- DNA. The tendency of brain disorders can be transferred by DNA.
- Chemistry or psychological changes in the brain. These changes can now be detected by a MRI.
- Trauma. The earlier trauma occurs in life, the more it affects the diseases of the brain functioning. It’s this combination that can lead to suicide.
Jackie feels the brain is like a cup of water. “If you add one extra drop to a full glass of water, the water spills over. The same goes for people who are suicidal. They feel helpless and hopeless, the only option is to die, to stop the pain, kill themselves. Trauma changes the way the brain functions. It changes the chemical functioning of the brain, and hence, the person cannot handle the trauma,” she said.
For most kids, the average brain disorder starts at about 14 years old. This is the same time many teenagers start to “lose themselves, or act out.” People pass their behavior off as just a part of growing up. For the young people who suffer from depression, they can get worse and commit suicide. In order to overcome depression, and ultimately to prevent much of the suicide cases, proper medical attention is needed and may include medication and therapy.
Jackie started the Hope Sunshine Club, which takes place in 28 middle and high schools in North Broward and South Palm Beach. This club is an after school optional curriculum, that meets once a week and is part of a school approved curriculum.
Within these clubs, they have developed Solutions Unlimited Now or SUN. The purpose of the group is to help each other solve problems. FISP SUN is a ten step, structured group program, which teaches problem solving, coping, and social skills to enhance protective factors and resiliency. It is designed to help members reduce self-destructive behaviors and enhance feelings of self-worth.
FISP SUN groups meet once a week for one and a half hours for ten weeks. Each participant receives a brochure with the explanation of the program, snacks at each meeting, and a completion certificate after the ten weeks. The groups are completely confidential with the only exception being if someone is at risk for self-destructive behavior or dangerously destructive behavior towards others.
Edwin Shneidma is a clinical psychologist and a leading authority on suicide. “One of the most harmful myths about suicide is the notion that people who really want to kill themselves don’t talk about it. Most people who commit suicide have told other people about their plans. Many have made previous suicidal gestures,” he said. Schneidman estimates that in at least 80 percent of completed suicides, the people provide verbal or behavioral clues that indicate clearly their lethal intentions.
That is why it is important to pay close attention to your children and their behavior. The sooner you detect somethingis wrong, the sooner you can get professional help. For more information and help, visit fisp.org.
Signs of Suicide
- “I wish I was dead.” • “You don’t have to worry about me anymore.” • “How do you leave your body to science?” • “Why is there such unhappiness in life?” • “Everyone would be better without me here”
- Feeling like a burden to others. • Depression. • Sadness. • Loneliness. • Extreme boredom.
- Previous suicide attempt. • Giving away prized possessions. • Arranging to donate organs. • Making a will. • Alcohol or other drug use. • Careless, risk-taking behavior. • Withdrawal from family and friends. • Running away from home or responsibilities. • Change in school or work performance. • Extreme irritability, guilt, crying, inability to concentrate. • Violent and rebellious behavior. • Collecting pills, razor blades, knives, ropes or firearms. • Sudden happiness after a long period of depression
- Recent suicide or death of a loved one or someone close to person. • Being a victim of physical or sexual abuse or rape. • Troubled family life. • Social isolation, lack of close friends. • Recent loss of job, friendships. • Failing or dropping out of school, losing job or divorce. • Not making a team, getting a promotion or membership in an organization. • Unwanted pregnancy or abortion, illness, or accident and losing ability to take care of self. • Being a “perfectionist.” Not living up to their standards or someone else’s expectations.