|Wednesday, October 21st, 2009||| CWK Producer|
“There’s a myth out there that if you talk about it, then you aren’t going to do it. Well that isn’t true. If you talk about it, usually it’s a cry for help.”
– Catherine Marnell, a high school counselor
This year an estimated 5 thousand young people in the U.S. will take their own life. And studies show that for every one suicide, there are nearly 200 teens who try to die and fail. That translates into one million kids who are experiencing serious psychological pain. But there are ways that parents, teachers and even other students can help.
At one area high school, the first line of defense against conflict and depression are the 25 student members of the Peer Helpers program. They talk about all kinds of issues affecting teens today, including youth suicide prevention.
"I've known three people [who've] committed suicide," says Shalisha, 17.
"I had a best friend who tried to commit suicide. I've known her since kindergarten, but I never saw anything because she never really said anything about it," 16-year-old Karina says.
"I've had three or four people I know kill themselves and about two attempt it – just one in the past week," says Alexis, 16. "It's sad. It's unfathomable."
Each year, 16 percent of teens seriously consider suicide. Another eight percent actually attempt to take their own life. It is the third leading cause of death among young people.
"We need to reach out and help these kids who are hurting," says Catherine Marnell, a school counselor who runs the Peer Helpers program. She says parents should act whenever there are signs of depression. Marnell advises parents not to minimize their child's pain or assume it's not real.
"They'll say, 'Oh, no, my kid is just having a bad day.' And I think parents tend to want to believe that everything is going to be OK, when they need to instead seek professional intervention," Marnell says.
Like their parents, students can help their peers by recognizing the signs of a suicidal teen.
"My friends would give stuff away, they would tell me that they're not happy. They'd tell me flat out that they're gonna to try to commit suicide," Alexis says.
"We try to kinda be a lifeline throughout the school," 16-year-old Brandon says. "We want to let everybody know that they can come and talk to us whenever they need to."
Some teenagers feel so overwhelmed with what they are experiencing that they believe their only escape is through suicide. Many parents and friends may not know there is a problem, however, until it is already too late. The risk of suicide may become evident to others if they know the warning signs of suicide. They include:
Intervention may be the best way to prevent suicide. If your child suspects a friend of having suicidal thoughts or tendencies, share with them the following options, developed by the National Association of School Psychologists.
If you suspect your child of considering suicide, be sure to act quickly and take it seriously. Many times, the main factor leading kids to consider suicide is depression. If you suspect your child is struggling with depression, consider sharing with him/her the following suggestions, created by Teen Contact.