Suicidal ideations are thoughts involving killing oneself and often are directly related to mental health illnesses such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, eating disorders and substance abuse disorders. Unfortunately this subject matter is not discussed regularly and as a result suicide is often overlooked in the United States and in some areas may even be considered taboo. Firearms account for 50% of suicide and women attempt suicide three times more frequently than men however men are three times more likely to die by suicide. Most often individual who have attempted or committed suicide will show warning signs however these warning signs may go unnoticed by loved ones and even health professionals. The reasons for committing suicide go far and beyond any one or two causes however studies have shown that approximately 90 percent of individuals who die of suicide have a diagnosable mental health disorder. The popular Netflix documentary 13 Reason Why was viewed by millions of viewers around the globe and although it is known as a controversial film about suicide among high school adolescents; it did shed light on the important link between bullying among teenagers and suicide. In the past, bullying was seen as just a regular part of growing up but recent studies have begun to uncover just how damaging emotional abuse from one’s peers can be:
- According to the CDC, suicide is the third most common cause of death among young people, with the total number of annual deaths reaching as high as 4,400. While the number of suicide deaths is alarmingly high, there are an additional 440,000 suicide attempts each year by young people.
- A recent Yale University study found that victims of bullying are between 2 and 9 times more likely to have suicidal thoughts than people who are not bullied.
- An ABC News survey discovered that almost 30 percent of young people are either bullies or bullied by others.
Warning signs for teen suicide
Warning signs that a teen might be depressed or suicidal include:
- Frequently talking about self-harming behavior and suicide, or portraying themselves in a negative light.
- Distancing themselves emotionally from loved ones.
- A loss of interest in activities that once brought them joy, such as playing sports, video games and spending time with friends.
- Unpredictable changes in eating or sleeping habits, often accompanied by neglecting personal hygiene.
- Desperate attempts to regain lost friends, such as succumbing to peer pressure to engage in unhealthy habits such as drug use.
Many individuals often ask themselves, “Why would someone commit suicide?” “Isn’t that a selfish way to solve problems?” “Can’t they just get over whatever it is they are going through?” Unfortunately individuals who have not personally struggled with a mental health disorder may have a hard time understanding why an individual would take their own life and it may be impossible to put themselves in someone else’s shoes. It is important, however, to understand that regardless of the reason behind the suicidal ideations and attempts, the individual is truly struggling with deep-rooted emotional pain that may go beyond “snapping out of it”. The individual may be ashamed to ask for help, may not have a support system to be able to receive help or may be too scared that finances could get in the way. As a family member, friend, coworker or loved one, it is imperative that we take our time to listen to individuals who are struggling and try to steer them in the right direction to receive professional help. Understanding the underlying reason these suicidal ideations are occurring, is important to in order to learn how to overcomes this particular struggle and develop healthy coping skills to combat and future setbacks.
Seeking treatment for suicidal thoughts and tendencies can prevent the loss of a life. Mental health professionals are trained in suicide prevention and can help uncover the underlying triggers associated with these distressing thoughts, Psychotherapy and medications can be used to cope with any anxiety or additional mental health disorders that may be present.