Suicide Rates Increasing in Our Youth

Dr. EJ. Harmon

June 24, 2019

 

Child suicide is a subject that most parents do not want to think about since they do not believe this is something their child would ever do. It becomes one of those; if we do not discuss it, our child will not know anything about it. It is as if silence will make the child oblivious to suicide. No matter how much we may read about it or see it occurring daily, it is perceived that I do not believe that is something that my child would ever do, while not even having conversations with your child regarding their daily experiences. Suicide is the leading cause of death in teenagers, and while the majority of suicides are males, that number is narrowing. One may think the amount is closing because the suicide rate is dropping among males; however, it is the opposite; the suicide rate of females is increasing.

Ruch and her colleagues analyzed national data on suicides from 1975 to 2016 among children and teens 10 to 19. Suicide rates fell during the 1990s but started to climb in 2007, according to the study published Friday in JAMA Network Open. When examining the increase, there is an upward trend regarding teen suicides, the question? What is causing the increase in suicides among teens? Is it bullying, social media, peer pressure, possible TV shows advocating dying, or is it that death is being glorified. Is it possible that children do not understand life nor the value of it?

We read about bullying occurring daily, and it may go without being resolved. This issue that should be handled by adults, the people that children look to for protection, is overlooked. So, what does the child think about at that time? I reported this issue to an adult, and the problem is not addressed. Did the child think to themselves, did the adult feel the problem was not significant or was it that I am not important? If a child starts believing they are not valued from the viewpoint of an adult, do they began to place less value on their life? Are they mentally capable of dealing with this bullying, knowing there is no support and continue to wake up and deal with this issue daily? If a child feels they have no support from an adult, where will they obtain it?  

With the increase of social media platforms, people want to feel relevant in the world, and children are no different. They look to increase their followers; their worth is based on how many followers they can obtain, no different than an adult, right? The problem is this, what occurs when something happens in a child’s life and they start being teased by these thousands of followers, which the child has labeled as their friends? If it creates a buildup of being teased by every one of these people, whom they don’t honestly know, but the child has termed them as their friends, so their opinion now matters. The adult may say delete your social media account; however, to the child this is a life-changing event, to remove this account is like deleting their existence, so what may seem like an easy fix for an adult, is detrimental to a child. We may brush it off by saying it is not that serious, but to them, it could feel like the end of the world.

If we examine the dates as the suicide rates increase, one major thing that I am sure that has changed in the household is communication. In the ’70s, ’80s and 90’s children couldn’t sit in their rooms all day, and parents not know what was going on. Now that has changed. Which means parents may not notice when kids started to act different, so they don’t realize that something is going on. Children were not glued to cellphones 24/7 because those devices were not relevant then. Children didn’t have people they associated with, and parents didn’t know the majority of those people. Parents knew the friends and probably knew the family as well. It has now come a time when parents do not know anything about their children, and probably can’t even tell you the route they go from home to school. They probably can’t list five of their friends or with whoever they associate.

So how do we decrease suicide with children? Communicate with your children. Do not use the term suicide as something that you don’t address if a child is curious about something they are going to ask someone, and the answer they receive may not be what you want them to know. Pay attention to your children; if they are feeling withdrawn, they are not engaging the way they usually would, talk to them, and do not attack them. Have general conversations with your kids to see how daily activities are going. Some times a child needs to know they have support from you as an adult, parent, and friend.

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