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A Parent’s Guide to Teen Pressure

8 years 11 months ago #155166 by Samaritans
“A Parent’s Guide to Teen Pressure”

Here’s a disturbing fact: 19% of all high school students have seriously considered suicide. Think about it: This means that about three athletes on your daughter’s soccer team or three students in your son’s history class have seriously considered ending their lives. Perhaps one of those students is your child’s friend. Or, perhaps one of those students is your child.

When we were young, the word “suicide” was taboo. Today, there is an increasing awareness of suicide, but there is still a stigma attached to it, so we as parents and teachers still have lots of work ahead of us if we want to educate ourselves and try to prevent suicide. If you think suicide is limited to just the lonely kid who keeps to himself—the one your child never talks to you about—you’re wrong. There is no typical suicidal teen. It could just as easily be the smartest, best looking, most athletic, or most popular kid as it could be the quiet kid. This is because no teen is immune from the immense social and academic pressures that can make them feel overwhelmed, in despair, depressed, or even suicidal. High school has become more competitive than ever before and the pressure to achieve is steadily mounting. For example, when we were in high school, it was a big deal to take just one Advanced Placement (AP) course before graduating. Today, students are expected to take several AP courses in each of their junior or senior years.

Socially, times have changed too. A child’s reaction to being dumped by his or her girlfriend or boyfriend the night before a final exam or a school dance could be quite different than the way we may have reacted when we were in high school. Whereas our news was kept amongst a few friends or acquaintances, the life of today’s teen is made public through social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter. Their world is a soap opera for all to watch—not easy at all. Therefore, teens have the added anxiety of maintaining their image not just in person, but via texting and the Internet. So, when our child goes through certain transitional moments that seem similar to what we went through when we were their age, keep in mind that the way it affects them could be much more intense than how it once affected us. We cannot just dismiss these moments because “we’ve been there too,” or because “we know better.” Please, always be sensitive. Please, always listen.

What should you do if you sense your child is feeling overwhelmed, depressed, or possibly suicidal? While it is always a good idea to talk to your child directly and to seek professional help for him or her, it’s certainly not an easy step. This is a sensitive or maybe embarrassing situation. Thus, a discreet and private option is for you to consider calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8225). It’s a free, confidential, 24-hour helpline that’s available to anyone in emotional distress or suicidal crisis, or for anyone who cares about someone they feel may be in this situation. Call for yourself or for your child.

How prevalent is this problem?

- According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 60% of high school students claim to have thought about committing suicide.

- The CDC reports that 9% of high school students have attempted suicide at least once.

- According to the National Conference of State Legislature (NCSL), 19% of high school students have seriously considered killing themselves.

- The NCSL reports that 14.5% of high school students have made an actual plan for committing suicide.

- Suicide is the third leading cause of death amongst young people between the ages of 15 and 24.

- Suicide is the fourth leading cause of death amongst children between the ages of 10 and 14.


Warning Signs of Suicide Risk:

Most people who are feeling depressed or desperate enough to consider suicide give clues to how they're feeling. You can be the first step toward helping someone you care about by learning to recognize these clues to suicide risk.
Verbal Signs
• "I want to kill myself."
• "I don't want to be here anymore."
• "No one understands me."
• "I can't take it anymore."
• "Things will never get better."
• "I'm tired of being a burden to my friends and family."
• "No one would miss me if I were gone."
Physical Changes
• Losing or gaining weight quickly.
• Suddenly not caring about appearances or cleanliness.
• Unexplained cuts, scrapes or bruises.
• Appearing tired all the time.
Acting Differently
• Changes in mood: more withdrawn, anxious or sad, or sudden mood lift after a down period.
• Changes in eating or sleeping habits.
• Suddenly taking more risks: not taking prescribed medication, drunk driving, ignoring physical limitations, having unprotected sex, using more drugs or alcohol.
• Loss of concentration.
• Withdrawing from friends and family.
• Losing interest in things that used to be enjoyed.
• Not planning for the future.
• Hurting oneself on purpose.
• Thinking and talking about death a lot.
• Unexplained good-byes or unusual personal expressions that have a sense of closure.
Situations
• Recently having lost a loved one, relationship or job.
• Having money problems.
• Having questions or worries about being gay, bisexual or transgender.
• Previous suicide attempts.
• Recent death of a loved one.
• Problems in an important relationship.
• Problems at work or school.
• Social isolation.

If you know someone for whom more than one of these is true, he or she may need your help. Not sure how to help? Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8225). The line is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
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