Minnesota has seen its usual number of teen suicides this year. But because a cluster of suicides involve students from Anoka-Hennepin, Minnesota, some people may believe there’s a “surge” in suicides that is an anomaly.
The Star Tribune (Minneapolis) went behind the statistics, though, to see if such an adjective was appropriate to describe this cluster. As it turns out, it wasn’t.
With 33 teen suicides so far this year, Minnesota is on pace for the average of 42 it has seen annually since 1990.
At worst, that misperception risks “normalizing” suicide, leading teens to accept it as a normal occurrence, said Daniel Reidenberg of the Bloomington, Minn.-based Suicide Awareness Voices of Education, or SAVE.
“Then when they are confronted or faced with a bad situation,” he said, “they think suicide is a normal response.”
In other words, no surge. Just a coincidence that a number of suicides occurred around a single community.
And social networking websites, like Facebook, may be helping teens not only memorialize such suicides, but also gives teens a place to express their own suicidal ideation. Which may be good, or it may be bad, depending upon how you look at it.
Anoka-Hennepin officials intervened earlier this year when a Facebook page to a teen who died by suicide turned troubling, Scanlan said. “Kids were posting statements like, ‘You’re in a better place, we’ll be with you soon.’ That’s not what we want.”
Of course that’s not what any parent or adult wants to hear. But if it’s the truth, blaming Facebook or some other social networking site is simply trying to sweep students’ feelings of pain under the rug. “If we stop them from posting, then they won’t be able to express these painful sentiments, and nobody else will commit suicide.”
That’s silly, magical thinking. Facebook is simply the conduit students are now using to express their feelings of loss, pain and remorse. Trying to cut it off is missing the point — that these students need an outlet.
The full article is a little long, but well worth the read about the challenges local official and students both face when dealing with teenage suicide.
Read the full article: No surge in teen suicides, but many myths
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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 4 Nov 2010
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.
Grohol, J. (2010). Surge in Teen Suicides?. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 9, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2010/11/04/surge-in-teen-suicides/