Not Just for Attention: Stop Teen Suicide
The subject of depression and suicide, especially in the case of children and teens, is a tremendous concern. Unfortunately, many cases go missed not necessarily because those surrounding these young people don’t care or pay enough attention to them, but more because they aren’t aware of what to look out for.
I am a suicide survivor. I also grew up with a suicidal mother and witnessed a peer successfully commit suicide, ironically, when I was in the emergency room beside her being treated for the same thing. I was saved, while her family still mourns for her.
These experiences, including the fact that my twelve-year-old daughter has been suffering with depression and suicidal thoughts for the last three years, are what steered me to obtaining my psychology degree, specializing in children with mental/emotional issues, and other special needs.
What triggers a young person to slip into such a dark place? Are there signs, and if so, what are they? How can we help someone going through this turmoil? Does medication really help? These are all questions most of us ask while either in the midst of dealing with this issue, or in retrospect when trying to figure out how a person could have felt low enough about themselves to think dying was the only option.
When I speak about the topic of young people dealing with depression and other mental/emotional struggles, or either helping a teen struggling with wanting to commit suicide or helping families understand how such a thing could happen, I tackle answering the questions above the best I can.
What are the triggers?
Triggers are events, or even other people, that heighten an already depressed individual’s view that life, as they see it, is impossible to cope with. It could be something as small as frustration with not being able to complete a task that others seem to be able to do with ease or a thoughtless, back-handed comment from a peer or something more serious such as an unhappy home life.
We all face similar triggers, also called stressors, but most of us are able to cope with them effectively. Most people face similar hurdles that life presents, but they also learn effective coping tools to get through the negative feelings. Those whose minds are clouded with depressive thoughts aren’t able to see the positive tools to get through such things, causing the depression to deepen after each trigger.
How can I help?
The most difficult part is that unless a person who wants to help is there to witness if/when triggers pop up, knowing how to help can be a challenge. The best way to help in these situations is not to bombard the individual with questions like, “What happened?” or comments such as, “Talk to me.” Most times, the words to describe the feelings that triggers elicit just aren’t there. That’s how to help.