“Suicide is not chosen; it happens when pain exceeds resources for coping with pain.”
Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of the death among college students and the third-leading cause of death among the overall teen population. This is when a person takes his or her own life. Since 1970, the suicide rates for teenagers have tripled.
If you look around in a class of 25 students, at least 5 of the students have probably considered suicide and at least two people in there have tried to kill themselves in the past year.
Why do people kill themselves?
It's very hard to narrow down all the reasons why teenager or any person at all, would want to die. For some teenagers, certain problems in their life may seem too overwhelming to deal with, so they look to suicide as a solution. Even if the problem may seem small to another person, to the individual, it is unbearable. Teenagers who want to die feel that it is too painful to live. They feel that they may not have the strength or desire to continue living.
The majority of teenagers who die have suffered from a mental disorder (like depression) or stressors (like loss of a friend, family history of suicide, family violence, substance abuse, etc ).
Suicide is a high rate for teenagers. Therapists feel that teenagers feel the need to fit in and be accepted. A teenager wants to be cool or is being pressured to being a good kid can all build up into an overwhelming amount of stress. This is when a teenager starts to think about healthy and unhealthy coping mechanisms.
- The warning signs of suicidal feelings, thoughts, or behavior are:
- prior suicide attempt
- talking about suicide
- making a plan
- giving possessions away
- signs of depression
- hopelessness and anxiety
- increase of drug activity
- extreme addition to cutting
- verbal hints "If anything happens to me, I want you to know.."
- Suicidal notes, writing, or images
Suicide should be taking serious. The warning signs above don’t automatically mean that the person is going to kill themselves. A person who is suicidal does not want to die. They just feel like that's the last option that they have in feeling better.
If you know a friend who is suicidal, BE a friend. Show concern for them and make sure you listen to what they are feeling. If the person has officially verbalized that they want to die, get help- call a crisis line, tell a school staff, or adult. Your friend needs professional help.
An adolescent who attempts to suicide will require a physical evaluation and treatment until he or she is feeling more stable. Treatment may include therapy, medication, or hospitalization.
What is self-injury?
Self-injury (or sometimes called "self-mutilation") is the act of attempting to alter a mood state through inflicting physical harm to one's self. In other words, it is when an individual hurts themselves to release some sort of distress (or negative stress). To deal with overwhelming stress, one may act through one or more of the self-injurious behavior including carving, scratching, branding, marking, burning, biting, bruising, hitting, and pulling the skin and the hair. The most common seen behavior are cutting, burning, and head-banging.
So why do people self-harm?
People self harm for many kinds of reasons. Individuals sometimes feel as if they cannot handle the overwhelming stress that they tend to hurt themselves as a way to release. Physical pain gives them a way to release the pain they feel inside. Instead of crying out for help, the physical evidence shows the pain they are experiencing. Some people who are SI (or self-injurers) self mutilate as a way to get attention. But although it may be true for some individuals, it is often more personal. Some cutters have experienced something in their life that they don't know how to handle. Some major examples are: child abuse, domestic violence, rejection, or oppression. People, who don't cut themselves, don't know what it's like to be a cutter. Cutting is a way for people to feel alive. There's some sort of relief in seeing blood and feeling the physical part of one's body hurting. It is about control, power, and the choice to keep something private. Instead of bottling up all the feelings inside, SI express it through scars, cuts, and burns.
How do I know someone is hurting themselves?
It is very difficult to identify self-harmers. They can be anyone or any person around you. Individuals who self- mutilate usually tend to keep their injuries private. They will do everything to hide their scars. Some signs include:
- Unexplained injuries including cuts or burns
- wearing full clothing even in hot weathers
- spending full time locked in one place (ie bathroom or bedroom)
- being isolated
What if I'm feeling like I want to hurt myself or I know someone close to me who cuts?
It can be very emotional for you and the cutter to talk about their injuries. You must be understanding and be willing to listen to the reasons why they choose to self-mutilate. It can be a very sensitive topic for them so you must allow them to have their space.
People who harm themselves don't know how to cope with their stress in a heathy manner. To help a self-injurer, they must agree to help themselves first. The focus of this task is to help reduce or control the amount of self-harm a person does on themselves. Forcing a person to stop immediately may cause an additional increased stress on the self-mutilator.
Here are some ways to replace the feelings of self-harming:
- use a red pen to mark yourself to replace the actual cutting.
- rub ice on your body.
- wear a rubber band and flick it when you feel the need to cut.
- Keep a journal or write your feelings down and rip it up.
- Talk to someone.
Sometimes self-mutilation can be taken to higher levels. It can lead up to suicide or suicidal thoughts and feelings. It is very important to let an adult know when someone's life is in jeopardy. Get help. When self- mutilation reaches to this extent, often the patient will be hospitalized to get help.
Grief and Loss
Ways to cope with loss-
- Talk to your family and friends
- Read some poetry
- Join a support group
- Be patient with yourself
- Seek counseling
- Engage in social activities
- Eat good foods
- Take some time to relax
- Listen to music
- Let yourself feel grief
When My Grief Was New
Bury my head in the sand
til my heart no longer cries
for there’s no pain like the pain you feel
when a loved one dies.
Bury my heart in the ground
til the very last moment in time,
for there’s nothing left inside me to give,
no poems left in me to rhyme.
Bury my soul in the sea
till the waters turn into clay,
for there’s nothing left to hope for now
that my love has gone away.
Bury my hopes and dreams
and my laughter and smiles, too,
for there’s no one left on the face of this earth
that cares if I ever do.
Bury me last but not least
in the grave by my loved one’s side,
and let peace return to this lonesome beast
since my loved one died.
Along Grief’s Journey
I hear little children laughing
and the sound brings my soul such pain.
Yet I know in my heart that life goes on
and I must learn to live again.
Some days I stay so busy
I don’t even realize you’re gone.
Then there are all of those other days when
I feel like I can’t go on.
Sometimes I think I dreamed you…
that you never existed for real.
You’ve been gone so long and I’m just not strong
for my life has become surreal.
They tell me it’s time to let go
and build a new life without you.
But the builder is weak and I can’t even speak
and I don’t know what else to do.
How long will this pain last, Lord?
How many tears have I already cried?
It seems like forever since my world fell apart
when my loved one died.
Peace in My Soul
It was such an awesome day
and I stopped to stare up at the sky.
My heart skipped a beat as I heard you speak
when you asked the angel, “Why?”
“I wrote ‘I love you’ in the sky
as big and as plain as can be.
How can she stand down there and look up here
and still not be able to see?”
The clouds were broken and thin,
and swirled randomly through the air.
I searched and strained at all that remained
of the swirls of white still there.
The angel’s voice was soft and low
as I smiled and raised my brow,
and I heard her say in the strangest way
“She’s starting to see it now.”
There’s a bittersweet peace in my soul
and a sense of awesome pride
knowing you’re up there writing words in the air,
and our love has never died.
By Ferna Lary