Adolescence Suicide Research Paper


Introduction 

People live in a get-rich-quick, slim-down-fast make-it-easy for them society. Young generations have been grown up in period of sustained prosperity with ample opportunities to weasel through the cracks and do things the easy way. Constantly developed technology gives people access to almost infinite amount of information that plays an important part in teenagers’ daily life and in all aspects of human society. Today, there are numerous ways for unprecedented opportunities, careers in everything from professional sports to politics, and plenty of role models to follow. But this positive image of American adolescence is a little like yearbook pictures that depicts every teenager as happy and satisfied with his or her life. There is a dark side, and some of these bottled solutions are not always the smartest or safest remedy. Teenagers feel overwhelmed by pressure and responsibilities, exhausted by part-time jobs and hour of homework, and anxious about personal life and relationships. Adolescence period is a period of how teenagers form their identity and social culture. They open their feeling searching for identity validation from friends, relatives, or strangers, and when these identities do not match, it can get dangerous. Often loneliness creates an emotional vacuum that is filled by intense peer culture, a critical buffer against youth fear of isolation. Some of this bounding is normal and appropriate, but teenagers’ need for acceptance is almost a biological drive that influences their mental health significantly. An adolescence period is a period for guidance, and when teenagers do not get support, they cling to cliques or immerse themselves in a universe out of their reach, a world defined by isolation and loneliness, where suicide is so common it has become mundane.

Discussion

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), suicide-related behaviors affect all ages, nationalities, economic levels, and cultures. Recent scientific report Preventing Suicide: A Global Imperative estimates that every year around the world more than 800,000 people die by suicide attempts, which makes this problem one of the hottest issues and the second leading death in adolescence period (in 15- to 20-year-olds). National Institute of Mental Health (2014) reports that for every individual who dies as a result of suicide, there are may be more than twenty individuals who strives an attempt (nih.gov). Thomas Insel in his blog Suicide: a Global Issue (2014), analyses the World Health Organization’s data, and provides some important issues by comparing suicide statistics across countries. He states that policies differ, with suicide considered a crime in some countries and a public health issues in others. Thus, in countries where suicide attempt is legal, decriminalization points at lower suicide rates, where risk factors vary as well. But the National Institute of Mental Health (2014) reports that despite the increased availability of mental health care and medications for mental disorders, the suicide rate among Americans has remained largely unchanged (nih.gov).

Humans, especially teenagers, are really touchy about personal problems, relationships, and attitudes of others. Thus, a comfortable talking is one of the most important ways to control teen’s suicide attempts. Adolescence is a period of making mistakes, when youth ruin their relationships with friends, relatives, and teachers, ruin their future opportunities, their health and personal life. Recent scientific evidence shows numerous cases when it is essential to socialize with an individual to prevent negative consequences of his or her suicide. Society must remember to help each other in various situations, especially when it comes to someone who is under peers pressure or a victim of bullying. The most common examples of bullying are physical abuse and psychological or verbal abuse. In the first case, physical bullying is the most important safety problem, as it leads to suicidal behavior. It is very difficult to find a solution for a victim, because it is his or her personal dramatically painful tragedy. When it comes to psychological bullying, some teenagers may bully peers to be popular and get an important place with significant position among others, which also causes negative consequences that lead to suicide attempts. In any case, these bullying processes need effective solutions. These ways are the development of coordinated system of supervision, implementation of school-wide rules against bullying, involvement of parents at informational meetings, and interventions with children who bully and who are bullied.   According to Journal of Adolescent Health (2013), suicidal adolescents’ experiences with bullying perpetration and victimization during high school are the risk factors for later depression and suicide attempts (Klomek & Kleinman). Researchers provide the first study to examine the extent to which frequent involvement in high-school bullying increases the risk for later depression and suicidality beyond other well-established risk factors of suicide. Their methodology and data analysis shows that students who reported being a bully, a victim, or a bully-victim, later suffered from depression, suicidality, or substance problems. Those being seriously bullied at young age, suffered from depression as young adults, and the victimization in years of secondary school was associated with newly incident symptoms of mental disorders the following year. Klomek and colleagues’ study (2013) shows that preventive efforts in high school should include those children who are characterized by both psychological disturbance and bullying, especially those who bully others, because aggression may even be as important as depression in some kind of suicidal behaviors (jahonline.org). Adolescent period is an extremely stressful time with various risk factors contributing to increase suicide attempts among teenagers. One of the main reasons that lead to suicide is depression. Many teenagers have been suffering for a long time because of some personal life experiences related with loss of the best friend or a family member, lacking of support, or bullying of peers. As a result, they feel lonely, isolated from friends, hopeless, depressed… It is easy to suffer in silence, but honest talks suggest ways to open up, talks about personal problems for those who seek or offer help. According to TED Conferences (2013), often teenagers do not look like depressed individuals being funny and confident. Kevin Breel, a mental health activist, powerfully speaks about depression and his adolescent suicide attempts, giving voice to an often silent struggle and offering a message of hope. He suffered from depression and suicide attempts when his best friend died in a car crash. Breel’s interview shows that stories about suicide attempts are very common, and while teenagers seem to live a happy life as high school activists, they are actually contemplating suicide (ted.com). Breel explains that it can be very hard and exhausting to keep sharing personal stories, but ultimately, this has a potential to help people. People should realize that being mentally healthy is just like being physically healthy; it takes work. Breel in his interview advises what people can do to help friends or family who are suffering from depression or considering suicide: If you feel like a friend or a family member is struggling, think about how you can reach out to them with kindness and empathy. Letting them know that they are not alone and they are loved can truly save a life. They won’t hear your words at first; they  will only feel your presence. But it all starts with someone who cares enough to reach   out and ask “Are you okay?” Please, do not be afraid to ask that question (ted.com).

Family violence, like physical or sexual abuse, is another risk factor of suicide. It is really difficult for any individual to control his or her lifestyle when they feel anxiety, depression, and panic disorder. Thus, teenagers tend to try alcohol or drugs; they feel the lack of a sense of purpose in life and the lack of interests. These are some of the factors leading to increase suicide attempts in adolescence period. Cash and Bridge’s study Epidemiology of Youth Suicide and Suicidal Behavior (2010) focuses on recent developments in understanding of the epidemiology and risk factors for adolescent suicide and suicidal behavior, and states that the suicide rate among children and adolescents in the United States has increased dramatically in recent years and has been accompanied by substantial changes in the leading methods of youth suicide, especially among young girls (nih.gov). Family factors, including parental psychopathology, family history and suicidal behavior, poor quality of the parent-child relationship, lead to an increased risk of adolescent suicide and suicidal behavior (Cash & Bridge, 2010). The authors found that child sexual and physical abuse leads to a significant increase of a variety of poor mental health outcomes, including suicidal ideation and behavior, experienced between ages 16-25. Study’s data collection shows that substance abuse (alcohol and drug use) disorders leads to a significant risk of suicide attempts, especially in older adolescent males when co-occurring with mood disorders (nih.gov). Thus, teenagers need more care and support, as the risk factors contribute to anxiety, troubles, constant thinking about life, risk-taking behaviors, and violent behavior increase suicide cases.

One of the most important developmental issues of adolescence suicide is social media and internet. According to Oxford University (2013), on the one side, internet websites and social media provide a support network for isolated youth, on the other side some researchers hold the opposite opinion, stating that the internet leads to an increased risk of suicide attempts and self-harm among vulnerable young people. Recent scientific global review shows that adolescents at risk of suicide spend a lot of time socializing on the internet forums than other young people. The Oxford biggest review of 14 studies states that the internet supports isolated teenagers and helps them to deal with difficulties, at the same time web sources and blogs inform about self-harm, suicide, and violent imagery online. The study concludes that the internet use is associated with more violent methods of self-harm than positive effect. Internet blogs do not make teenagers feel better, and in some cases forums increase vulnerable teen’s distressed and violent behavior. The Oxford researchers explain that internet forums’ emotional support do not reduce rates of suicide attempts among young people (The University of Oxford, 2013).

Luxton and colleagues in their study Social Media and Suicide: A Public Health Perspective (2012) states that internet, particularly social media, has become fundamental in the way many teenagers communicate, exchange information, and share thoughts and ideas through chat rooms, video sites, electronic forums, or blogging web sites, that can influence suicidal behavior, both negatively and positively. Social media have transformed traditional methods of adolescents’ communication, which poses a significant risk to suicide-related and pro-suicide behaviors, including cyberbullying, cyber harassment, and a traditional suicide pact (an agreement of two or more people to die together at a particular time and by the same lethal means), where the use of online chat web sites can provide a common ground for discussion and sharing ideas with other like-minded individuals. Luxton concludes that despite many online videos devoted to suicide prevention, social media poses a risk for vulnerable young people by fostering peer pressure to commit suicide, and encourages teenagers to idolize those who have caused self-harm or facilitate suicide pacts (Luxton, June, & Fairall, 2012).

Psychiatrist Dale Walker estimates an unusually high rate of suicide among Native Americans, where 40 % of those who die from self-harm are between the ages of 15-24, and among young adults ages 18 to 24, Native American have high rates of suicide than any other ethnicity, and higher than the general population (huffingtonpost.com). National Center for Health Statistics states that Native American youth suicide rates are at crisis level. Suicide vulnerability (between ages 18-24) varies among American Indian or Alaska Native, Non-Hispanic white, Asian or Pacific Islander, Non-Hispanic black, and Hispanic (Huffington Post, 2015). The director of Suicide Prevention Research Program at Columbia University states that there is very limited success in reducing the rate of suicide attempts among youth in the United States that occur annually, thus more research and the most up-to-date information is needed. According to Washington Post, youth suicide rates among nationalities vary, because the causes of suicide are complex and include different factors, like mental illnesses, alcohol-related causes, intimate partner violence, poverty and unemployment, domestic violence cases, bullying or sexual abuse.

Suicide is the third leading cause of death for adolescents ages 14 to 20, which requires a lot of attention and further research. The number of adolescent deaths from suicide in the United States has increased significantly during the past few decades, and the number of suicidal cases actually may be higher, because some of these cases are considered as “accidental” (pediatrics, 2000). Numerous studies show that suicide affects youth from all races, socioeconomic status, although suicidal rates vary (Native Americans have the highest suicide rate, African Americans have the lowest rate). Adolescents are at higher risk commonly have a history of depression, family history psychiatric disorders, alcohol use, physical disorders, a history of physical or sexual abuse, social isolation, school problems, conflicts with parents, legal difficulties. Ingestion of pills is the most common method to commit suicide among teenagers, thus parents should be informed about suicidal issues and suicide-behavior prevention programs. Only knowing the symptoms of depression and mental disorder or other presuicidal behavior, healthcare services and therapy medications can help prevent the risk for adolescent suicide. The American Academia of Pediatrics explains that an appropriate care for suicidal young individuals depends on their knowledge, findings, comfort with the issue, and access to community resources. Specialists are ready to resolve the suicidal crisis and are ready to help all adolescents with suicidal behaviors.

Conclusion

Adolescence period is a period of how teenagers form their identity and social culture, a period for guidance, and when teenagers do not get support, they immerse themselves in a world out of their reach, a world defined by isolation and loneliness, where suicide is so common it has become mundane. Powerful social media platforms, video-sharing web sites, and internet sources spread information how to die; family violence leads to depression, anxiety and self-harm; high-school bullying perpetration and victimization causes loneliness, isolation and suicide-related behavior. Thus, suicide is the third leading cause of death among teenagers in the United States and represents a significant public health problem worldwide (Cash & Bridge, 2010). Every year around the world more than 800,000 people die by suicide attempts, which make this problem one of the hottest issues and the second leading death in adolescence period. The World Health Organization (2014) states that policies should provide some implementations to reduce suicide rates, including the importance of surveillance, raising awareness, and educating the media to reduce “sensational coverage that can trigger suicides in the wake of news stories” (National Institute of Mental Health, 2014).                                                                                                                           

Works Cited:

Almendrala, A. Native American Youth Suicide Rates Are at Crisis Level. Huffington Post, Oct. 2, 2015. Web 28 March 2016. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/native-american-youth-suicide-rates-are-at-crisis-levels_us_560c3084e4b0768127005591>

Cash, S. J. & Bridge, J. A. Epidemiology of Youth Suicide and Suicidal Behavior.National Institute of Health, 1 Oct. 2010, web 26 March, 2016.            <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2885157/>

Goodman, N. Confession of a Depressed Comic. . TED Conferences online web resource, 10 Sept., 2013. Web 26 March, 2016. < http://blog.ted.com/confessions-of-a-depressed-comic-a-qa-with-kevin-breel/>

“How Internet Affects Young People at Risk of Self-Harm or Suicide”. University of Oxford,    web 31 Oct., 2013. Web 27 March, 2016. <http://www.ox.ac.uk/news/2013-10-31-how-internet-affects-young-people-risk-self-harm-or-suicide>

Insel, T. Director’s Blog: Suicide: A Global Issue. National Institute of Mental Health,Sept. 4, 2014. Web 27 March, 2016.            <http://www.nimh.nih.gov/about/director/2014/suicide-a-global-issue.shtml>

Klomek, A. B., Kleinman, M., Altschuler, E., Morrocco, F., Amakawa, L. & Gould, M. S. “Suicidal Adolescents’ Experiences With Bullying Perpetration and Victimization    during High School as Risk Factors for Later Depression and Suicidality”. Journal of Adolescent Health, July 2013, volume 53, Issue 1, pp. 37-42.<http://www.jahonline.org/article/S1054-139X(12)00802-6/fulltext>

Luxton, D. D., June, J. D. & Fairall, J. M. Social Media and Suicide: A Public Health Perspective. American Journal of Public Health. 2012 May; 102(Suppl 2): S195–S200. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3477910/>          

 “Suicide and Suicide Attempts in Adolescents”. Committee on Adolescence.Pediatrics, April 2000, volume 105, issue 4. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/105/4/871>

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