Identifying the factors keeping teenage suicide numbers on the rise

Identifying the factors keeping teenage suicide numbers on the rise

Suicide, an act of taking one’s own life both voluntarily and intentionally, is a grave public health problem that not only extinguishes the life of the person but also affects those close to him or her. It is especially devastating to his or her close family members and children.

Despite the multiple consequences, it remains a widespread problem and is the 10th leading cause of death among Americans of all ages. While 44,193 Americans took their own lives in 2015, more than half a million (505,507) Americans received medical care for self-inflicted injuries at emergency departments (EDs). However, deaths from suicide tell only half the tragic story. It is chilling to note that 9.8 million adults reported that they had serious thoughts of suicide and 1.3 million adults confessed of an actual suicide attempt that turned nonfatal in 2016.

Once again, suicide is in the news more than ever as it claimed yet another talented artist Linkin Park’s celebrity singer Chester Bennington on July 20. There is also an ongoing debate about Netflix’s controversial drama-mystery series “13 Reasons Why” portraying the story about a girl who committed suicide. It raked up a can of worms on the topic of suicide prevention as some critics objected to the depiction of such a grave problem in a callous manner in the series.

Understanding the dynamics of teenage suicide

In 2013, suicide was identified as the second leading cause of death among teenagers in the age group 15 to 24 years. In early adolescence, children face new and challenging social and academic environments due to their advancement from elementary to middle school and then to high school and subsequently to college.

Due to changes in environment and friend circle, they are prone to experiencing a range of overwhelming emotions, intense stress, confusion, self-doubt, peer pressure, pressure to excel in academics and sports, etc.  During this growing phase, some may additionally face unsettling changes in family setup resulting from a divorce between parents. Subsequently, they need to adjust with stepparents and stepsiblings, or move in to a new community.  Sometimes, circumstances can be so overwhelming that suicide may appear to be the easier route.

According to experts, one of the major contributing factors for suicide is depression, which is on the rise. Today’s teens face another enemy unbeknown to them in the form of smartphones and social media. This combo is the gateway to online bullying, shaming, sexual exploitation and blackmailing. Moreover, there are those who are genetically predisposed and social media only serves to add fuel to fire. A segment of today’s teens also seems to have picked up a fad of viewing suicide as a viable option and are casual when they say, “It’s okay. I’ll see you on the other side.”

Key risk factors and prevention measures for suicide

There are multiple factors at play before a person takes the fatal plunge to suicide. Some of the main reasons behind any kind of suicide are as follows:

  • A record of suicide within family.
  • Presence of depression or any other mental illness.
  • Previous or current alcohol or drug abuse.
  • A traumatic life experience or similar consecutive events (e.g. job loss, financial ruin, divorce or breakup)
  • Indulgence in violent behavior.
  • Easy accessibility to lethal weapons.
  • Lack of support for an existing mental illness due to widespread social stigma surrounding.

Some elements that shield people from suicidal thoughts and behaviors and prevent them from committing suicide are as follows:

  • Developing problem-solving and conflict resolution skills to nonviolently handle disputes.
  • Evolving the feeling of connectedness and strong bonding with family, friends and the community.
  • Growing deep cultural or religious beliefs that dissuade one from committing the act of suicide.
  • Identifying an easy way to access effective clinical care interventions for mental disorders and substance addiction.

Suicide is preventable: Know the warning signs and get help

Some of the important warning signs of suicide are depressive thoughts, feeling of hopelessness, self-harm tendencies, intense desire to die, substance-seeking behavior, and withdrawal from close friends and family. However, such symptoms are usually ignored as the characteristics of a typical teenager going through hormonal and social changes. People rarely communicate openly about suicide and such attempts are usually done rarely. Therefore, people with depression and suicidal tendencies need to be monitored and treated.

If you think you or your loved one is showing the signs and symptoms of depression, contact the Arizona Depression Helpline to locate the best depression rehab centers in Arizona. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-233-3895 or chat online to get details about the depression treatment programs in Arizona.