Why Teens Contemplate Suicide

Mary was a normal, middle-class, 15 year-old girl.  She fit in pretty well at school.  She was involved with her youth group at church and she loved to play volleyball.  Over the last couple of years, her life had taken some stressful turns since her mom and dad divorced.  Mary’s mom was tired, frustrated, and angry much of the time from working two jobs to try to take care of Mary and her little sister.  Mary’s dad had remarried and was very involved with his new family.  Mary found herself lonely and sad most of the time. Mary’s grades had always been high and her parents were proud of her for succeeding academically.  But now her grades were starting to fall short of the norm and Mary was actually failing math.  She was afraid to tell her mother because she didn’t want for her mother to be disappointed in her.  She knew that her mother had recently gotten a prescription for sleeping pills from the doctor.  It really sounded very appealing to Mary to just go to sleep and never wake up. As she poured a handful of pills into her hand, Mary heard her little sister come bouncing into the house.  It would be several hours before Mary’s mother would be home and Mary didn’t want her little sister to be the one to have to deal with the tragedy that was about to ensue.  Mary put the pills back. The next day, Mary mustered the courage to talk to her mother about what almost took place.  She found out that her mother cared deeply about what was going on in her life and was more than willing to help.

Teens Become Overwhelmed

Many teens that survive a suicide attempt have said that they were trying to escape a seemingly impossible situation or avoid unrelenting bad feelings.  They say that they don’t want to die as much as they are want relief from painful emotions.  Some teens may be feeling rejected, worthless, or, like Mary, they may feel like they are a disappointment to family members.  These feelings can overwhelm the underdeveloped teen mind and, in a moment of charged emotion, they can consider acting on the impulse to take their own life.

The Depression Component

It’s probably safe to say that most teens are confronted with stressful situations from time to time, and yet most are able to cope.  What is the difference between those that attempt suicide and those that seem more resilient? Mental health professionals agree that the majority of suicides are committed by people who are depressed.  Characterized by a targeted focus on failures, disappointments, and negativity in general, depression causes teens to be unable to see the possibility of a favorable outcome, resulting in a profound sense of hopelessness.  Teens that suffer with depression may feel that attempting suicide is the only way to communicate their unhappiness and they may see death as the only viable escape from unbearable emotional pain.

Getting Help

Teens who get the proper help for their depressive symptoms soon realize that their thinking has been severely distorted.  As the depression fog lifts, they begin to understand how to handle their stress and emotions in a more productive way. If your teen is experiencing depression, it is imperative to contact a mental health professional.  There are toll free suicide crisis lines that are staffed 24 hours a day.  One such line is:  (800) SUICIDE.

References:

Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE) http://www.save.org
American Psychological Association (APA) http://www.apa.org/

About Melissa J. Murphy

Melissa Murphy is in the business of building self-esteem, instilling confidence, and restoring hope in those who have given up on life. She is currently completing her degree in psychology, and has worked as a life coach and faith-based counselor for more than a decade. By bringing her personal life experiences into her work, Melissa is able to help others survive their wounds, heal their pain, and live a life of success despite having incurred overwhelming emotional scars. For the last few years, she has discovered the joys of writing and has published a growing number of articles. Melissa currently resides in the Houston area with her husband and her two wonderful children.

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