from elementary school in 8th grade English class
Teen Suicide (1993 -1994)
People don't talk about it. Society says you shouldn't. But maybe we should. If we talked about it more, maybe we could save a life. About 5,000 teens commit suicide a year. One out of every five students in high school has a self-esteem problem or suicidal thoughts. They don't understand that "dead people don't smell flowers, see a rainbow, or enjoy any of life's other pleasures." 1 You can't come back, it isn't possible. In my report, I'm going to inform you on six area of suicide. These areas are: history, statistics, causes, signs, prevention, and after-effects.
Suicide is not anything new In the Bible, Judas killed himself after betraying the Lord. The Islam's Koran views suicide as a worse crime than murder. Even Saint Augustine condemned suicide. It was used as revenge when Samson killed himself and some Philistines by collapsing their temple. It was used as penance when Socrates drank poison for leading youth astray, yet he condemned it by saying, "There is a doctrine whispered in secret that a man is a prisoner who has no right to open the door and run away." 2 Many Greeks in Aristotle's time didn't believe in suicide. The stoics believed in suicide only in cases of severe pain, incurable disease, or as a duty to one's nation. There is even a Roman tale of it. To avoid shame, Lucretia, after being dishonored by the king's son killed himself. The punishments for suicide in France and England during the Middle Ages were very harsh. In France, a suicide's body was dragged face down through the streets of town. In England, a suicide's body was buried at the crossroads with a stake through their heart Early poets and writers reflected on the dim view. For example, from Shakespeare's Hamlet, "To be or not to be - that is the question: whether tis nobler to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take up arms against a sea of trouble, and by opposing end them?" 3 While many today can separate the deed from the doer assisting a suicide is still a crime.
Most people who commit suicide are sane at the time of death. As I mentioned before, one out of every five high school students have a self-esteem problem or suicidal thoughts. About half a million suicide attempts happen annually. Every day teens commit suicide and every hour 57 teens attempt it. The teen years are not easy with due to changes in independence, the boy-girl attraction, not wanting to be alone, and of course, the generation gap between parents and their children. Three suicide risk factors of adolescents are: Being between the ages 15-24, being of the male gender, and being gifted, intelligent and a high achiever. Suicide itself is the 3rd largest causes of death in teens.
There are many causes of suicide not just one. In some cases, family stress is a cause of suicide. Some things that cause stress in families are rootlessness, divorce, separation, being latch key children and perhaps birth order. Trigger events are things that cause a suicidal person to make an attempt. Some examples of triggers are failure, a death in the family or of a friend, alcohol or drug use or abuse, and stress. Pressures to do drugs, have sex, death (friend, family, or faved music or movie star), change in ideals, loss of boyfriend/girlfriend, or the occult often cause suicides. A suicidal teen feels that there is no way out, no hope, that they failed in life, and aren't normal. Two major causes are social rejection and depression. A decline in religious practices and beliefs is a cause of suicide. TV, role models and music may also be a factor. Even a game can be linked to suicide as in the case of Dungeons and Dragons (D&D). D&D is a complex role-playing game. Some people turned into their characters. The game has been linked to 29 suicides and murders since 1979. Even the Ouija board can be dangerous if relied upon. Two reasons someone might commit suicide are to escape pressure or pain or as an act of revenge. Another aspect or cause of suicide is mistaken loyalty.
Most people don't know the signs of suicide, which are a sudden change in personality, self hate comments, depression, acting fine, radical mood swings, and gift giving or giving away of prized possessions. Signs of depression are a lack of interest in things that were fun, preoccupation with death, sleepless ness or sleeping more than normal, and a loss of appetite or too big of one. Tunnel vision is the blocking out of everything but the pain. The following poem was written by a 17 year old high school student who is currently being treated for depression:
" Time passes by/ minute by minute, hour by hour/ as I see myself die.
No one around to relieve my loneliness/ no one around me who cares.
Each day that passes/ I see nothing but conflicts.
No meaning to life,/ yet no meaning to death.
I'm like a rope in tug-of-war/ always being pulled upon
Constant anger/ But all inside,/ As I see myself die.
Never any happiness/ only hopelessness and helplessness.
Shall the day arrive soon/ or shall I survive,
How can I live with a constant lie/ for..., she must die." 4
Drugs and depression often go hand in hand. Threats are a verbal sign and may include statements such as: "You'll be sorry when I'm gone," "I wish I was dead," and "I'm going to kill myself." There are two types of suicide . Slow suicide is killing yourself internally an example of this would be suffering from depression until you can't feel anymore or are numb with it. Fast suicide is taking your own life by using a gun, pills, cutting your wrists, or jumping off a high spot.
Sometimes reaching out a hand to a suicidal person may just save their life. You should show concern, interest, listen to what they have to say, give them your full attention, talk to them as an equal, be on their side, and let them find their own answers. Remember, you don't have to talk every minute. Be insistent but never criticize, judge, or make promises you can't keep. If the need to tell someone else arises, remember, "The choice is easy when you have to pick between a dead friend or a broken promise." 5 Some places to get help for you or a friend are a crisis hot line, counseling, prevention center, and psychologist. In some cases anti-depressants might be prescribed. Non-profession can help too by making a pact with a friend to call when they feel like killing themselves. Friends can listen, look for potential problems, and by being careful what they say. parents need to be accessible, available, and accepting. Teachers can help by maintaining confidentiality, not ordering, making referrals, and contacting someone else or a parent if necessary.
Suicides can tear families apart. A suicide can cause other suicides to take place in the family and among the friends who are left behind. Those who are left behind may feel guilty or angry because of the death. Parents may start to second-guessing themselves. Some results of a failed attempt are paralysis, blindness, and loss of limbs.
Maybe the best way to sum up the history, statistics, causes, signs, prevention and aftereffects of suicide is "No matter how sad and bleak one's life may appear to be, there are always better ways than suicide to deal with despair." 6
1 Warren Coleman, Understanding and Preventing Teen Suicide, Chicago: Children's Press, 1990. page 38
2 John Langone, Dead End, Boston: Little, Brown & Company, 1986, page 12
3 John Langone, Dead End, Boston: Little, Brown & Company, 1986, page 17
4 Brent Q. Haten, Young suicide: Depression & Loneliness, Rockies: Cordillera Press, Inc, 1986, page 40
5 Warren Coleman, Understanding and Preventing Teen Suicide, Chicago: Children's Press, 1990. page 93
6 Warren Coleman, Understanding and Preventing Teen Suicide, Chicago: Children's Press, 1990. page 10-11
Biskup, Michael, ed. Suicide - Opposing Viewpoints. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, Inc, 1992.
Capuzzi, Dave. Preventing Adolescent Suicide. Muncie: Accelerated development Inc., 1988
Coleman, Warren. Understanding and preventing Teen Suicide. Chicago: Children's Press, 1990.
Haten, Brent Q. Youth Suicide: depression and loneliness. Rockies: Cordillera Press,Inc. 1986
Hendin, Herbert. Suicide in America. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1982
Johnston, Jerry. Why Suicide? Nashville: A division of Thomas Nelson Publishers. 1987.
Langone, John. Dead End: A book about suicide. Boston: Little brown & Company. 1986
personal note: The original paper included one table and two graphs.