Introduction To Sociology 12:30 TR FALL 2010

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Suicide
By Rochelle Boyce
When it comes to teen suicide, the statistics make it clear that attempted suicide is a big deal as it relates to the youth. Suicide is one of the leading causes of death for teenagers. Even though we do not hear a great deal about teen suicide, it is a very big problem, causing the deaths of thousands of teenagers across the country each year.
Teen suicide attempts are calls for help
Many teenagers have thoughts of death. These can come from a variety of causes, and can result in actual attempts on their own lives. It is important to take suicide attempts seriously. While there is no way to reliably figure the exact ratio of attempted suicides to completed suicides, the National Institute of Mental Health believes that as many as 25 suicides are attempted for each one that is completed. And this does not even cover the teenage suicide attempts and completed suicides that are never heard about. Understanding that a teen suicide attempt is a call for help is essential in preventing a completed attempt later. It is interesting to see that there are some very clear indications that suicide is different for males and females, attempted and completed suicides alike. For example, males are four times more likely to die from suicide than females. However, teen girls are more likely than teen boys to attempt suicide. So, even though teenage girls make more attempts on their own lives than teenage boys, the boys are more likely to actually complete a suicide attempt. They do not allow for intervention, and are less likely to “call for help” through a suicide attempt, since there is often little opportunity to get males into treatment since their suicide completion rate is higher than that of females.
Some of the strongest teenage suicide risk factors include the following:
• Aggressive behavior
• Disruptive behavior
• Substance abuse
• Depression
Another risk factor to consider is the presence of firearms. Because firearms are used in more than half of teen suicides, it is important to realize that easy access to a firearm and ammunition can contribute to a teenage death by suicide. Teenagers who express suicidal thoughts and feelings should not have ready access to firearms. Part of preventing teen suicide also includes recognizing the issues that can trigger feelings of teen depression leading to suicidal thoughts and feelings. Teen suicide prevention requires diligence on the part of guardians, as well as a willingness to seek professional help when it is needed.
Recognizing teen suicidal behavior
One of the first steps to teen suicide prevention is to recognize suicidal behaviors in teenagers. It is important to be involved in a teenager’s life, so that you can recognize when behavior seems a little abnormal and prone to teen depression and/or teen suicide. Be on the lookout for behavior that indicates a pattern of suicidal thoughts and feelings, including the following:
• Expresses thoughts of death, dying and a desire to leave this life
• Changes in normal habits, such as eating and sleeping, and spending time with friends and family
• Dramatic weight fluctuations, in any direction
• Evidence of substance abuse (alcohol and drugs, both legal and illegal)
• Dramatic mood swings (becomes very happy after feeling very depressed)
• Lost interest in schoolwork and extracurricular activities (including declining grades)

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