It is no secret that teen suicide is a rising epidemic in our nation, and unfortunately, something we see in our county.
We, as law enforcement officers, first responders and many of us, parents, find this trend unsettling. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), suicide is one of the leading causes of death amongst teenagers.
The CDC reports that it is the third leading cause of death, behind accidents and homicide, of people ages 15-24. Even more disturbing is the fact that suicide is the fourth leading cause of death for children between the ages of 10-14.
It is the nature of those in the law enforcement culture, to look for a cause, one single culprit that we can hold responsible. However, there is no one linear cause to this multifaceted problem. Nonetheless, addressing it from the perspective of law enforcement, is something our office focuses on.
First, we should examine a few of the factors that contribute to teen suicide.
According to teen suicide statistics, the most frequent cause is cited as depression, followed by feelings of hopelessness, anxiety, along with feelings of being trapped in a life that one can’t handle.
In some cases, teenagers believe that suicide is the only way to solve their problems. The pressures of life seem too much to cope with, and some look at suicide as a welcome escape.
Other factors that may contribute to teen suicide include: divorce of parents, violence in the home, rejection by friends or peers, substance abuse, death of someone close to the teen and the suicide of a friend or someone he or she “knows’ online.
Secondly, once the possible causes of suicide have been identified, it is imperative that parents, family members, friends and those close to the teenager look for warning signs that the teen may make an attempt at suicide.
While it is difficult to distinguish, at times, simply because the teen years are a trying time and normal behavior may often possibly look like destructive behavior.
But it does not hurt to look at the warning signs of teen suicide: talking about death (even in a joking manner), the teen develops a plan on ways to kill him/her self, has made attempts in the past, withdraws from friends and family, shows sign of depression or substance abuse, begins to give away sentimental possessions, begins to glamorize suicide and even possibly forms pacts.
Prevention often means treating depression. Statistically, almost 75 percent of people who commit suicide are depressed. There are many options available to help your teen receive professional help. Your teen’s doctor or counselor can help you determine the best plan of action for you and your teen.
Finally, this rising statistic is one that we must all take action against. We must encourage open dialogue with our youth, and often serve as someone for our teens to talk with. Recognize early warning signs and perform periodic check ins, to maintain an open path of communication.
Finally, if we can be of any assistance, please reach out to us. Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or (704)878-3180.