Why Your Life Matters: A Note to Suicidal Teens
“I’m 15. I have no friends. I’ve never had a relationship. One guy I thought was my friend has turned against me. I can’t bear the idea that I’ll always be alone. I’m feeling suicidal and don’t know what to do.”
“My parents don’t love me. They are always yelling at me for the smallest thing. I get good grades, help around the house, and usually I’m respectful. But it doesn’t matter. They still criticize me and call me names. I think about suicide every day.”
“Me and my boyfriend have been together for five years. We spent all our time together and shared everything. Two weeks ago, he dumped me for another girl. I’ve been crying ever since. I’ve been self-harming and drinking a lot. I don’t think I can live without him. I want to die.”
“I don’t know why but I always feel terrible. I can’t sleep. I’m not interested in eating. Nothing about life looks interesting. I can’t relate to other people. I think what most people talk about is stupid. What’s the point of living anyway if it’s always going to be like this?”
Sound familiar? If you are a teen who feels this way, you are not alone. Although every story is unique to the person telling it, the themes are the same — feeling friendless, unloved, abandoned or unappreciated.
Maybe you feel as desolate as they do.
Despair is a powerful emotion. When people feel hopeless and helpless to change it, suicide starts to seem like a reasonable option. But most people who attempt suicide don’t really want to die. They want the emotional pain, the loneliness, and the feelings of worthlessness to end.
People can and do pull out of it. If you are a teen who has ever felt that the only way out is to hurt yourself or to end it all, it’s long past time to get the help you deserve. The fact that you are even reading this says that you have some little glimmer of hope somewhere. Now, please read and heed the following list. There are other things to resort to so you never have to reach that last resort. Please give these an honest try.
- Reach out for help.If you have the kind of folks who are reasonable and who really are doing the best they can to be decent parents, do talk to them. Believe me: They would rather hear about your pain than deal with your death. Once they get over the shock, many parents swing into action to get their kids the help they need.If your parents are part of the problem or if you think they won’t take you seriously, find an adult who will respond to you. Consider your school guidance counselor, your doctor, your faith leader, a coach or the parent of a good friend who is sympathetic. Adults tend to listen to other adults. If they won’t listen to you, your parents may listen to another adult who they see as a serious person or as someone in authority. Even if they don’t listen, you will have developed an adult ally who can connect you with people and places that can be helpful.
- Stay away from other kids who feel equally hopeless.That includes young people online who feel as bad as you do. Constantly talking about how awful life is may feel good in the moment, but in the end it will only make you all feel worse. People who don’t know how to help themselves won’t know how to help you. If you want to help them, by all means tell them you care and then give them the link to this article.
- Resist the temptations of self-destructive behaviors.Drinking, drugging, sleeping around with people who don’t love you, cutting and other forms of self-harm may provide a distraction and even some momentary relief, but really, they only add another problem to the one you already have. It’s hard enough to deal with a depressive episode without also having to deal with what has become addictive behavior. If you’ve already fallen into this trap, it’s all the more urgent that you get yourself into treatment.
- Make sure the problem isn’t medical.Make an appointment with your medical doctor for a complete medical workup. Adolescence is a time of enormous physical change. There are a number of medical conditions that look and feel like a major depression. Hormonal imbalances, particularly in the thyroid, can make people feel tired and all-around terrible. There are other medical problems that can cause anxiety, depression, and even psychosis.
- Get into therapy.A therapist who has experience in working with young people is more than just someone to talk to. Therapists can help you sort out whether the problem is a diagnosable mental illness or a problem that you can solve with some support and advice. Therapists can also refer you to services that are available in your community.Truly desperate? Don’t wait for an appointment with a therapist or doctor. Go immediately to the local hospital for an evaluation by the emergency services or crisis team. They will help you decide if you need a hospitalization to stabilize. Don’t believe the negative portrayals of hospitals that are in the movies. A few days in a psychiatric unit can be just what you need to begin to turn things around. Most hospitals provide intensive individual and group therapy and can get you started on medication if you need it.
- Use the hotlines. If you need someone to talk to immediately, there are counselors available by phone and online at the following hotlines. Call. They can provide a lifeline while you put local supports in place. Keep the phone numbers in your wallet in case you need to make a crisis call. Most are available 24/7.
- In the U.S.A.:
- Boys Town Hotline: 800-448-3000
Counselors are there 24/7 to talk to teens and children. Although started for boys, they now welcome calls from girls as well.
- SuicideHotlines.com:Includes national 800 numbers as well as state by state listings.
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255. Counselors are available 24/7.
- Covenant House Nineline: 1-800-999-9999. Available from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern Time, seven days a week. Covenant House provides food, shelter and care to homeless kids in many major cities in the U.S. and Canada. There are also locations in Mexico, Nicaragua, Honduras, and Guatemala.
- Boys Town Hotline: 800-448-3000
- Befrienders Worldwide– Hotlines for teens who live outside the U.S. There are over 400 volunteer centers in 39 countries across 6 continents.
- United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland: Samaritans: 08457 90 90 90 (UK); 1850 60 90 90 (ROI) — This is a charity which provides 24/7 confidential emotional support to any person, irrespective of race, creed, age or status, who is suicidal or despairing.
- In the U.S.A.:
Suicidehotlines.com has it right:
You can always kill yourself – L a t e r !!
JUST DON’T DO IT now.
Put it off – for another hour, another day.”
Give help and hope a chance.
Hartwell-Walker, M. (2012). Why Your Life Matters: A Note to Suicidal Teens. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 14, 2016, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2012/09/10/why-your-life-matters-a-note-to-suicidal-teens/