Why do so many teens commit suicide?
Teens kill themselves because they simply don’t know what else to do. They may be sad, mad, heartbroken, bullied or just drunk/high. They commit suicide in many different ways (I don’t like to post those here as have young readers) but the bottom line is that they just want the pain to end. They don’t really want to die, that’s sort of just a side effect as far as they’re concerned, they just want the pain to end. Teens are impetuous, in the moment. Future? What’s that to a teen? Not much.
Bullying is a major cause of suicide (bullycide), but it’s not the only one. Most of my suicidal clients are upset about family matters, not external ones. You, their parents, are the most influential people in their lives. Not their friends, their teachers or their boyfriends/girlfriends … yes, it’s true … really.
What can you do to prevent your teen from going down that path?
Remind yourself that you are far more important in your teenager’s life than you even realize. And certainly more than they realize. Actually, that’s not true, all my teen clients talk about their parents more than their friends … interesting isn’t it?
What do I do that’s different from what you do? I give your kids hope. I listen and validate. I validate every single one of their feelings (not all their actions) and give them hope. By feeling heard and understood, they just naturally start having hope about the future. Hope prevents suicide.
The problem you have when I tell you to listen and validate is that you’re so caught up in all the crap your teens are putting you through at home that you can’t see through all your own pain. I cannot sympathize with that more as know how difficult teens can be. But that’s stuff we work on AFTER the listening and understanding takes place. Giving you hope is my job, so just trust that listening is the first step.
Why is it important to talk about suicide?
I believe suicide should be a subject that all families discuss. It’s a difficult topic but so is sex, and that needs to be discussed also. Just because you talk about something it doesn’t mean they’re going to go out and do it. As a matter of fact, it’s the opposite. I’ve asked pretty much all my teens clients if they’ve had sex and if they’ve thought about killing themselves. They answer me honestly and matter-of-factly, it’s you who who get all upset and are unable to discuss these topics.
Secrets imply shame … so TALK!!!
What if my teen has already attempted suicide, or is talking about it?
GET HELP!!! This is not the time to try to work things out yourself. Schools are a wealth of resources. They have counselors and connections to help you figure out what to do. You can hire me as I specialize in teens, but don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Search out help from every single source you can find. I can help you co-ordinate all the help and services you search out but will also warn you that teens are impetuous so you have to act fast and put your own emotions aside.
Most teens who threaten to kill themselves don’t actually follow through, but some do. There are no definitive warning signs so take them all seriously and GET HELP!!!
Lisa Bunnage, Parenting Coach & Mom (email@example.com)