America Today and Teen Suicide
Teen suicide has been a hot topic in America for several decades. Sadly, suicide is the third leading cause of death among teenagers. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, one in every eight teens have had thoughts about suicide and experts estimate for every teen suicide death there are ten attempts. There are many factors that increase the risk to take one’s life today in the United States. Depression, alcoholism, drug addiction, family history of abuse, stress over school are just a few. Many teenagers that commit suicide suffer from mental illness. Diagnosed as bipolar with severe depression and manic episodes or schizophrenia that is characterized with hallucinations make teens feel unable to cope.
On May 21, 2013 I experienced firsthand the shock, sadness and overwhelming grief of losing a friend to suicide. Bailey Leal, seventeen years of age, star soccer player for Stoneman Douglas High School was found dead by her sister. She had hung herself in her bedroom. Studies show that most teens use suffocation to end their life and Bailey was not an exception. Bailey and I attended Middle school together and played soccer for the city of Parkland for many years. Bailey was an amazing talent on the soccer field and we were all in awe of her abilities. Bailey was an average student and had a difficult relationship with her boyfriend. Bailey’s parents were strict and had high expectations for her. Bailey had recently received her ACT test results and scored extremely high. Many felt she had cheated to obtain the score.
The ACT test committee questioned her results and had requested she retake the exam. Bailey was being bullied at school. Fellow students were calling her a cheater, loser, and much worse. Sadly, Bailey took her life. I found it so hard to comprehend how a talented, beautiful girl could take her own life with so much to live for. Bullying has been cited as the primary source of many teen suicides in the last decade. Teen suicide is a very sensitive subject for families in America today. Parents are often the last to know or suspect and feel overwhelming guilt and grief. However, many teens have given some type of warning ahead of time. The problem is that many adults do not take the teenager seriously. They may feel the teen is just seeking attention. Parents may feel shame and embarrassed that they did not provide their son or daughter with a life they felt was worth pursuing. A nonprofit organization “Forever 4 Change” was established to promote teen suicide awareness and counseling. There is a myth among many teenagers that committing suicide is somehow a noble act. Teen suicide is a very real and frightening issue today in the United States. It is important to recognize that the rate is on the rise due to bullying, increased pressures, and mental health issues. It is very important to identify what leads to it and to treat the causes. Denial will not make teen suicide decrease in America. Education and awareness are the keys to success in saving a life.