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Profile of teen suicide: Warning signs there could be a problem
Within the last year many in our Cape Ann community have been devastated by tragic suicides. Teen suicides, in fact, have tripled over the last three years across the country. Here is some important information for parents, families, friends and teachers of teenagers, and for everyone who cares about a teen. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: ~ Each year, about 100,000 Americans under the age of 24 attempt suicide. Approximately 5,000 succeed. ~ The suicide rate in this group has tripled in the last three years. ~ Teen boys are four times as likely to kill themselves as teen girls. ~ Teen girls are more likely to attempt suicide by overdosing or by jumping from a height, teen boys by hanging or gunshot. ~ Many teen suicides had a relative who had committed suicide. ~ Depression is the usual underlying cause and number one risk factor of teen suicide. ~ Studies of teen suicides show that many had long-lasting episodes of depression, changes in sleeping habits, truancy and substance abuse problems. They also tended to have engaged in risky or impulsive behavior, given away valued possessions and actually talked to others about committing suicide. ~ A single upsetting event, such as the breakup of a relationship or a rejection by a desired college may possibly put an already
depressed teen at risk of suicide. Almost every month we hear of the horrors of the physical and mental abuse, and in some cases, the murder of a gay teen. While homosexuality is more accepted today, over 50 percent of Americans believe, - in spite of the conclusion of most behavioral scientists, that homosexuality is the result of particular chromosomal configurations present at birth - that it is immoral and that it is a personal choice. As a result, gay teens, especially those who come from families where homosexuality is ridiculed or considered a sin, are often deeply distressed and terrified to the point of suicide because they feel they not only have to cover up their sexual identity for fear of their lives, but also have to create a false heterosexual persona. As most of us are well aware, the degree and danger of bullying has increased exponentially through texting and the internet, creating 24 hour emotional batterings that provide the victims with no relief, no sense of safe haven even at home and unrelenting public humiliation. This kind of cruel and brutal harassment can send even the most stable young person over the edge. In some instances, where teens come from dysfunctional families where physical, verbal and/or sexual abuse creates a toxic household, a teen may feel so trapped that suicide seems the only way out. The physical, social and emotional changes that occur during the teen years are enormous and overwhelming to many young people. Parents and concerned others can help teens by helping them acknowledge their struggles, by making time for quiet conversation, by emphasizing that most kids their age are dealing with the same issues, and that you, as the adult, are available to listen and support without arguing and without judging them. Pay attention to their moods, their behaviors. Ask them what they think and what they feel are the causes behind bullying or teen suicide. Let them know you care by offering to listen whenever they would like to talk. Stay alert to signs of depression: quiet and seemingly sad moods, irritability, withdrawal from previously enjoyed activities and associations, isolating, a drop in grades, changes in sleep and eating habits. Teen years are often filled with naturally changing and unpredictable moods and behaviors, so if you are having difficulty determining the difference between expected behaviors and possibly dangerous ones, err on the side of caution. Talk confidentially to your child's teachers and the parents of his or her friends about what they are observing, and don't hesitate to seek professional help from counselors who specialize in working with teens..
Within the last year many in our Cape Ann community have been devastated by tragic suicides. Teen suicides, in fact, have tripled over the last three years across the country. Here is some important information for parents, families, friends and teachers of teenagers, and for everyone who cares about a teen. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: ~ Each year, about 100,000 Americans under the age of 24 attempt suicide. Approximately 5,000 succeed. ~ The suicide rate in this group has tripled in the last three years. ~ Teen boys are four times as likely to kill themselves as teen girls. ~ Teen girls are more likely to attempt suicide by overdosing or by jumping from a height, teen boys by hanging or gunshot. ~ Many teen suicides had a relative who had committed suicide. ~ Depression is the usual underlying cause and number one risk factor of teen suicide. ~ Studies of teen suicides show that many had long-lasting episodes of depression, changes in sleeping habits, truancy and substance abuse problems. They also tended to have engaged in risky or impulsive behavior, given away valued possessions and actually talked to others about committing suicide. ~ A single upsetting event, such as the breakup of a relationship or a rejection by a desired college may possibly put an already depressed teen at risk of suicide. Almost every month we hear of the horrors of the physical and mental abuse, and in some cases, the murder of a gay teen. While homosexuality is more accepted today, over 50 percent of Americans believe, - in spite of the conclusion of most behavioral scientists, that homosexuality is the result of particular chromosomal configurations present at birth - that it is immoral and that it is a personal choice. As a result, gay teens, especially those who come from families where homosexuality is ridiculed or considered a sin, are often deeply distressed and terrified to the point of suicide because they feel they not only have to cover up their sexual identity for fear of their lives, but also have to create a false heterosexual persona. As most of us are well aware, the degree and danger of bullying has increased exponentially through texting and the internet, creating 24 hour emotional batterings that provide the victims with no relief, no sense of safe haven even at home and unrelenting public humiliation. This kind of cruel and brutal harassment can send even the most stable young person over the edge. In some instances, where teens come from dysfunctional families where physical, verbal and/or sexual abuse creates a toxic household, a teen may feel so trapped that suicide seems the only way out. The physical, social and emotional changes that occur during the teen years are enormous and overwhelming to many young people. Parents and concerned others can help teens by helping them acknowledge their struggles, by making time for quiet conversation, by emphasizing that most kids their age are dealing with the same issues, and that you, as the adult, are available to listen and support without arguing and without judging them. Pay attention to their moods, their behaviors. Ask them what they think and what they feel are the causes behind bullying or teen suicide. Let them know you care by offering to listen whenever they would like to talk. Stay alert to signs of depression: quiet and seemingly sad moods, irritability, withdrawal from previously enjoyed activities and associations, isolating, a drop in grades, changes in sleep and eating habits. Teen years are often filled with naturally changing and unpredictable moods and behaviors, so if you are having difficulty determining the difference between expected behaviors and possibly dangerous ones, err on the side of caution. Talk confidentially to your child's teachers and the parents of his or her friends about what they are observing, and don't hesitate to seek professional help from counselors who specialize in working with teens.

(GLOUCESTER TIMES)

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