Mental health

Suicide amongst teens and children

As disturbing as it is for us to imagine children and teenagers even contemplating suicide, suicide is the second leading cause of death for ages 10-24 (2014 CDC WISQARS). Suicide is not cowardice. Rather, it is an extreme step motivated by a feeling of complete helplessness and loneliness. During a time of distress, or while feeling  emotions such as hurt, rejection, loss, anger,  guilt, or shame, or while experiencing a mental illness like depression or anxiety, it is natural for a child to feel alone . Sometimes, children also find it difficult to talk to their parents, teachers, mentors or guardians about their emotions because they feel like it will be a futile attempt at communicating their emotions. A healthy environment for open discussion on any problem is thus an absolute necessity in every household. Children may also find it difficult to articulate their emotions. This is when they must be given complete love and assured that they will be heard with no judgement.
Often with the discussion about suicide comes the question if it is ever the answer to a problem one might be facing. However, we must remember that a person who is so furiously driven towards suicide is very unlikely to be able be process the situation as well, especially so in case of children. The best way to prevent suicide in this case is to reduce the resources available for suicide to zero. Keep sharp objects, firearms, medication away from the reach of children and monitor the same from time to time. Apart from this, parents must be mindful of the changes in behaviour of their children and make sure they monitor their moods. They must also pay close attention to what they say and how they process emotions such as grief and stress.
Understanding what is more likely to drive their children to suicide should equip parents with the knowledge necessary to evade any sort of trouble. Children/ teens with a psychological condition such as depression, bipolar disorder, and alcohol or drug use are statistically more likely to attempt suicide. Often, they experience hopelessness and helplessness that push them to the edge. Experience of physical, mental or sexual abuse could drive a them to suicide. If the family has a history of depression and suicide and the child is exhibiting feelings of agitation, frustration, parents should stay alert. Parents have to be especially careful with children who have previously made a similar attempt. If the child is having trouble connecting with peers and/or parents and teachers, feeling of loneliness may creep in and this is often overwhelming to the child, to the point of giving up. There is also a possibility that a child might be driven to the edge if their sexuality is not supported and accepted by their loved ones.
Staying mindful of a child’s behaviour, giving them unconditional love and support and providing a healthy environment for unrestricted discussion are thus the best ways for parents to deal with and comfort a suicidal child.

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