Suicide is the second leading cause of death globally of people age 15 to 29. CNS photo/Sergio Perez, Reuters

Suicide threatens teens

By  Danielle Sequeira, Youth Speak News
  • November 14, 2014

Amanda is recovering after battling depression for three years. The Grade 12 student, 18, is thankful for friends who helped stop her from taking her own life. 

About 300 children and teenagers commit suicide every year in Canada, according to The Hospital for Sick Children. Worldwide, suicide is the second leading cause of death for people between the ages of 15 and 29. Every 40 seconds, somewhere in the world, someone takes his or her own life, according to the World Health Organization. 

“One of the hardest things (when you are depressed) is the feeling of isolation,” said Amanda, who requested her real name be withheld. “Over time, you’re sucked into a never-ending hole of negative emotions. Suicide seems like a viable option. 

“Many times it is the youth who appears to be organized, academically successful, seemingly open and friendly, that is more likely to have a life that is spinning out of control than the quiet loner sitting in the corner,” she believes. 

Connor, also not his real name, agrees. 

“The fastest way to help someone dealing with depression or suicidal thoughts is to identify what makes them so unhappy or what pushes them to that point. Everyone is unhappy about something, but what makes this person so desperate to end their own life?” he said. 

Connor, 16, had a “run-in” with suicide when he attempted to end his life at age 14. 

“Suicidal thoughts are like drowning. Every time you distract yourself you come up for air but, when you are alone, you are dragged under again imagining how much better life would be for your family without you around,” he said. 

There are more than 800,000 suicides every year, according to a World Health Organization study, “Preventing Suicide — A Global Imperative.” For every suicide, it’s estimated there are more than 20 unsuccessful suicide attempts. 

Fr. Brian Shea, pastor at St. Martin de Porres parish in Scarborough, Ont., says identifying youth at risk is often difficult. The first sign is usually when they reach out to a friend about struggling with their inner demons. 

His advice: “If you are a teen and one of your friends is depressed, self-harming or talking about suicide, confront them about it. At this stage if they can talk to someone about their fears and their feelings, they make a connection that may save their life. Simply knowing someone cares can help them open up and get out of the slump they are in.” 

Teachers at St. John Paul II Catholic Secondary School in Toronto advise that when dealing with teenage issues such as suicide, it is important to speak to a trusted teacher, guidance counsellor or parent. With the proper support from the people around them, a teenager dealing with suicidal thoughts can be helped and find normalcy. 

The Canadian Children’s Rights Council, using information from the Canadian Mental Health Association, identifies five myths about suicide: a suicidal person will always be suicidal; most suicides happen suddenly without warning; people who talk about suicide will not commit suicide; only people with mental disorders have suicidal thoughts; and talking about suicide will encourage the act of taking one’s own life. In reality, many people overcome their suicidal thoughts and people often give verbal and behavioural warning signs before they attempt suicide. 

If someone talks about suicide they are reaching out for help, say experts. They are indicating a deep unhappiness that is driving them to consider ending their life, with or without a mental illness. Discussing suicide, and seeking professional help, is the first step towards restoring a person’s desire for living. 

(Sequeira, 16, is a Grade 11 student at St. John Paul II Catholic Secondary School in Toronto.) 

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