Since 2007, the number of teen suicides has almost doubled. The number of adolescents diagnosed with depression and anxiety is staggering.
On Oct. 10, 2012, Amanda Todd of British Columbia ended her life. This was her fourth attempt to escape the bullying she endured because of a past mistake, which followed her all over the internet. A grown man blackmailed her into showing him her bare breasts in a video chat. Todd wanted to forget about the incident, but sadly the man would not leave her alone.
He followed her on Facebook and even contacted her friends on the social media giant sending them the picture he took of her. Todd became a victim of cyberbullying. Even moving to a new location did not allow her to escape her mistake. She sank into a deep depression and entered the world of drugs, sex, and alcohol. Todd felt suicide was her only escape.
It usually takes several negative events in order for someone to feel contentment with the idea of death, because the brain is tailored towards living.
Thoughts of suicide and depression are mental illnesses which can be treated. The pressures on teens today cause anxiety, which often leads to unhappiness. The burden to succeed in life and do their best, self-doubt from worrying if they are good enough to accomplish their goals, confusion, fears of not having enough money for college, and stress is a reality that adolescents face every day.
The loss of a boyfriend/girlfriend, sibling or parent can be a dramatic experience which causes anxiety. Teenagers of divorce often experience distress, which continues in a downward spiral when parents remarry. Having step-siblings and step-parents can be unnerving and cause uncertainty adding more stress.
Threats of Suicide Are Either Direct or Indirect
Always take these following statements seriously because chances are the teen has thought hard about suicide:
- It would be better if I were dead.
- I am not going to be around to annoy you for long.
- It would be better for you if I were not around.
- I hate my life.
- I am going to kill myself.
These threats are not always verbal, but can also be in the form of text messages and appear on social media. Sometimes it can be difficult to distinguish between a teen ‘just being a teenager,’ and actual depression.
The teen may exhibit several signs that seem out of character for them. That could be a strong signal of depression.
Signs and Concerns of Depression
- Rapid changes in conduct.
- Expresses feelings of unhappiness, seems suddenly melancholy.
- Started having trouble in school, grades slipping.
- Loses interest in once pleasurable activities.
- Becomes increasingly irritable and aggressive.
- Withdrawn from loved ones and friends.
- Exhibits poor hygiene.
Once the decision has been made to commit suicide they begin making final arrangements, such as giving away prized possessions or saying goodbye to loved ones.
More Warning Signs
- Signs of drug or alcohol abuse.
- Shows feelings of loneliness or being deserted.
- Starts exhibiting risky behavior, acting recklessly.
- Begins getting into serious trouble.
- Has trouble paying attention, focusing.
These are only the most common signs. The best thing to do when a teen exhibits any type of behavior, which causes concerns is to reach out to someone and ask questions. Todd did something other teens have done, but in her case, that mistake would never stop haunting her. Any traumatic experience can cause enough anxiety to lead to depression, but when several such realities take place it could be impossible for a young person to cope with alone.
By Katherine Miller
Edited by Jeanette Smith
The Parent Resource Program: Signs and Concerns
nwf daily news: Experts speak about teen suicide following students death
CBC News British Columbia: 5 years after the death of Amanda Todd her story still resonates
Top Image Courtesy of Mary Lock’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Featured Image Courtesy of David Zellaby’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License