Have you ever known someone who committed or attempted suicide? It sucks. Some people feel so overwhelmingly hopeless that they don’t know what to do other than ending their life. That level of pain and misery is hard for a lot of people to imagine, but some people have such a hard time getting through each day that they just can’t do it anymore. And once everyone finally knows how they really felt and what it caused them to do, we’re all left here wondering, “Why didn’t I do something? Why wasn’t I there for them? What could I have done to save them? Is it my fault?”
When a friend or family member does commit suicide, don’t ever blame yourself. It isn’t your fault. It’s natural to have those thoughts and feel guilty, but really, you cannot blame yourself. When people think about killing themselves, it isn’t because of one or two things that happened, or even because of one or two people; it’s always very complex. There’s a lot going on in their lives, and it all adds up to the point where they choose to end it. So if you feel like it’s something you did or didn’t do, don’t put that kind of blame on yourself, because there probably was a lot more to it than you know.
Teen suicide is becoming a huge problem. In the United States, suicide is currently the third leading cause of death for people ages 15-24. When people commit suicide, they attempt it approximately 25 times before they are “successful.” Most suicides are committed with guns, many are committed by overdosing.
What is going on? Why are people doing this?
Being a teenager can be a strange time in a person’s life. You’re awkwardly in the middle of being a child and being an adult. It can be a time of tremendous hope and possibility, but also a time of great stress, pressure, and confusion. Dealing with people at school can be rough, being pressured by society sucks, and it seems like everyone expects you to figure out you’re whole life right now: Are your grades good enough? What sports will you play? Where are you going to go to college? What are you going to major in? What job do you want for the rest of your life? Does that job make enough money to support your family? When will you get married?
The list goes on and on and on….
It’s a rough time for everybody, but some people seem to have rougher circumstances than others. There are many factors that put teenagers at risk for thinking about suicide, here are some of them:
- mental health problems: anxiety, depression, bipolar, insomnia
- going through major life changes: parents’ divorce or separation, moving, parents in the military, financial changes, victims of bullying
- alcohol/drug use
- feelings of distress, irritability, agitation
- feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness
- previous suicide attempts
- family history of depression, suicide
- victims of emotional, physical, sexual abuse
- lack of support network, poor relationships with parents and/or peers, social isolation
- dealing with bisexuality or homosexuality in an unsupportive or hostile environment
When people are planning on killing themselves, they almost always give the people around them warning signs. Sometimes, tragically, people see their cries for help as them “wanting attention.” If you think someone might be hinting that they’re going to attempt suicide, you must take it seriously. Don’t hesitate to get help, because what if they’re serious?
Some warning signs are:
- talking about suicide or death
- giving hints that they might not be around anymore
- talking about feeling hopeless/guilty
- pulling away from friends and family
- writing songs, poems, and letters about death and loss
- giving away their things
- loss of desire to take part in their favorite things and activities
- changes in personality/behavior
- fatigue/loss of energy
- neglect of appearance/hygiene
- aggressive, destructive, or defiant behavior
- poor school performance
- engaging in risk-taking behaviors
- having trouble concentrating/thinking clearly
If you suspect that a friend is having suicidal thoughts, make sure to express your concern, support, and love to them. Knowing that someone cares and someone wants to help will give them hope. Tell a trusted adult who is close with your friend, like a parent, another relative, coach, counselor, or teacher, and ask them to talk to them. Another important thing you should do, even though it might be awkward, but you need to ask questions. Ask how they’re feeling, if they’re going through anything, if they need help. Ask them if they’ve been thinking about killing themselves. Just bring it up. They may hesitate at first, but if they say yes, get help immediately and let them know how much you and so many other people care about them. If you need to take drastic measures, you can tell a doctor who can refer you to a psychologist or psychiatrist.
If YOU are feeling suicidal, tell someone. It may not seem like it, but so many people do care about you: parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, classmates, teammates, coworkers, teachers, counselors, neighbors. Make sure someone knows how you’re feeling so they can help you. If you feel uncomfortable talking to somebody, you can always call 1-(800)-SUICIDE or 1-800-273-TALK for help, too.
Nobody should ever feel hopeless, because there is always hope.