Suicide has become the second leading cause of death in college students and ages 18-25. Suicide causes more death than cancer, chronic lung disease, AIDS, heart disease, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia, and influenza combined (The Jason Foundation). According to the Center for Disease Control, in the years 2005-2009, the greatest percentage of mechanisms for suicide were 45.5% by firearm, 38.9% by suffocation, 26.3% by cutting, and 8.0% poisoning. In the year 2010, there were 38,364 suicides in the United States–that is an average of 105 people each day. To top it all off, four out of every five teenagers who have attempted suicide have given clear warning signs. What are these warning signs? How could I not have seen this coming? Why did this have to happen? The three most common questions following a surprise suicide– or was it really a surprise? Most signs go unnoticed until it is too late and the deed is already done. How can people prevent these suicides? How can we, as a human race, help these statistics go down? Believe it or not, the solution is more simple than expected. Suicidal behavior can be easily detected if you look for the right signs. According to The Parent Resource Program, these signs include loss of appetite, loss of socialization, and sudden behavioral changes. It is not a shock that if a teenager comes home crying, something is wrong. However, most of the time when it is “too late” it is because loved ones are looking for something to jump out at them. Parents are expecting their child to say “I’m thinking of killing myself.” It is not that easy. People need to be more in-tune with adolescents to really know what is going on inside their heads. Do not get me wrong, I do not blame parents for negligence and I understand that it can be difficult to get through to a teenager who is wrapped up in their teenage world.
I understand that it is difficult to know what teenagers are going through if they do not open up about their problems. However, there are ways to cheat the system. Implicit signs of vulnerability speak louder than words. Music preference is worth a thousand signs. Another possible, yet undermined, sign of depression and suicide ideation is music. If a child’s iPod shows an album cover of Ozzy Osbourne, with a coffin and a song titled “Suicide Solution” when usually their screen would show Hannah Montana in a field of daisies, it is likely that something is wrong.
Whether the adolescent is simply exploring new tastes in music, or if they are writing their fate on a piece of notebook paper, it cannot hurt to ask and find out. Checking in on a situation like this could prevent a devastating tragedy of self-harm. Most of the time, teens are susceptible to thinking that life is over when they are faced with adversity. The ending result is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Teenagers assume suicide will fix their problem of the week. They forget to look into the next chapter of their lives, they do not realize that their problem will not last forever. It is up to the bystanders to become involved and spread awareness for depression and suicide. “A semicolon is used when the author could have ended their sentence but chose not to; the sentence is your life and you are the author.”