|| Kristen DiPaolo | CWK Network Producer
“I think the expectation most people
have is that the act of suicide, whether it’s successful or not,
is something that comes at the end of a long downhill slide….
when in fact, the study seems to be suggesting that for most people,
it’s a very impulsive kind of thing that has not been thought
about for very long at that particular occasion.”
W. Schenk, Psy. D., Clinical Psychologist
New research from the University of Western Sydney in Australia
suggests that most suicides are not thought out and carefully planned,
as many may believe. In fact, most of the people in the study attempted
suicide after thinking about it for only a matter of minutes.
Brian was a drug addict. He stole to get high—wrecked cars—-even
went to prison. He says, “ It didn’t matter what substance
it was, it all brought me to the same spot…the misery, the
wanting to kill myself, winding up in handcuffs.”
One day when Brian was high, he had a fight with his parents,
and, on impulse, grabbed a gun.
His mom Patricia Cove says, “Somehow he got it, and wanted
to show me that he was going to do whatever the heck that he wanted
to do. Oh, it was awful. He had a gun and he was holding it in
New Australian research shows many suicide attempts are snap
decisions fueled by drugs and alcohol.
“For most people, it’s a very impulsive kind of thing
that has not been thought about for very long at that particular
occasion,” says Paul W. Schenk, a clinical psychologist in
Half the people in the study attempted suicide after thinking
about it for less than ten minutes. Brian says, “It’s
a real scary dark place. It’s a real lonely place, and it
definitely is selfish because you are just thinking about you the
whole time, but it’s hard to consider other people when you
are that miserable.”
The study shows—often there is no premeditated plan for parents
to uncover. That’s why, if a child seems depressed—it’s
important to ask.
Dr. Schenk says, “So I’d rather know that I had asked
up-front, point blank, ‘Hey, you’ve been looking pretty
depressed lately, sometimes when people get depressed, they think
about killing themselves. I’ve wondered if you’ve thought
He says often the question can lead to healing. “What they
will do is help get rid of the secrecy, and allow the person the
opportunity to go, ‘Yeah, well things have been pretty bad,
and I’ve thought about it,’” says Schenk.
Brian says, “I used to think that I would never get out
of the hole that I had dug for myself….but I did.“
Warning signs that your son or daughter may be feeling suicidal
include a sudden drop in grades, change in sleep patterns, drug
or alcohol use, wrestling with issues of sexual identity, or having
a family member who has previously committed suicide.
|By Larry Eldridge
CWK Network, Inc.
According to the Office of the U.S. Surgeon General, suicide is the
third leading cause of death among young people 15 to 24 years old – just
behind unintentional injury and homicide – and the sixth leading
cause of death for 5- to14-year-olds. In addition, researchers at the
Office of the Surgeon General have found that …
- More teenagers and young adults die of suicide than from cancer,
heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia, influenza
and chronic lung disease combined.
- Americans under the age of 25 account for 35 percent of the
population and 15 percent of all suicide deaths. The rate among
children aged 10 to 14 was 1.6/100,000, the rate for children aged
15 to 19 was 9.7 per 100,000, and the rate for young people aged
20 to 24 was 14.5/100,000.
- Important risk factors for attempted suicide in youth are depression,
alcohol or other drug use disorder, and aggressive or disruptive
- Over the last several decades, the suicide rate in young people
has increased dramatically. From 1952 to 1996, the incidence of
suicide among adolescents and young adults nearly tripled, although
there has been a general decline in youth suicides since 1994.
From 1980 to 1996, the rate of suicide among persons aged 15 to
19 years increased by 14 percent and among persons aged 10 to 14
years by 100 percent. For African-American males aged 15 to 19,
the rate increased 105 percent.
- Among persons aged 15 to 19 years, firearm-related suicides
account for 63 percent of the increase in the overall rate of suicide.
- The risk for suicide among young people is greatest among young
white males; however, the suicide rates are increasing most rapidly
among young black males.
- Males under the age of 25 are much more likely to commit suicide
than their female counterparts. The gender ratio for people aged
15 to 19 is 5:1 (males to females), while among those aged 20 to
24 it is 7:1.
- The dramatic increase in the suicide rate among 10- to14-year-olds
underscores the urgent need for intensifying efforts to prevent
suicide among persons in this age group.
Why are the rates for teenage suicide so high? The American Academy
of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) says teens experience “strong
feelings of stress, confusion, self-doubt, pressure to succeed, financial
uncertainty and other fears” on their path to adulthood. The
AACAP also lists divorce, the formation of a new family with stepparents
and stepsiblings, or moving to a new community as other common teen
stresses that can be very unsettling and can “intensify self-doubts.” In
some cases, teens consider suicide to be the only “solution” to
the problems they feel are permanent conditions.
|By Larry Eldridge
CWK Network, Inc.
Suicide is a complex behavior relying on many factors. The Center for
Disease Control says that the people most at risk for committing suicide
are those with several of the following characteristics:
- Have attempted suicide in the past
- Have a family history of suicide
- Have a firearm in the home
- Consume alcohol and/or abuse other substances
- Are depressed
- Have experienced violence (physical, sexual, domestic or child
- Are experiencing unusual stress due to adverse life events
- Have spent time in jail or prison
- Have a medical condition
- Move frequently from one location to another
- Experience poor parent/child communication
- Feel socially isolated
According to the AACAP, parents should look for the following
warning signs if they suspect their child may be considering suicide:
- Change in eating and sleeping habits
- Withdrawal from friends, family and regular activities
- Violent actions, rebellious behavior or running away
- Drug and alcohol use
- Unusual neglect of personal appearance
- Marked personality change
- Persistent boredom, difficulty concentrating or a decline
in schoolwork quality
- Frequent complaints about physical symptoms often related
to emotions, such as stomachaches, headaches, fatigue, etc.
- Loss of interest in pleasurable activities
- Intolerance of praise or rewards
A teenager who is planning to commit suicide may also exhibit
the following behaviors:
- Complain of being a bad person or feeling “rotten inside”
- Give verbal hints with statements, such as “I won’t
be a problem for you much longer,” “Nothing matters,” “It’s
no use,” and “I won’t see you again”
- Put his/her affairs in order by giving away favorite possessions,
cleaning his/her room or throwing away important belongings
- Become suddenly cheerful after a period of depression
- Show signs of psychosis (hallucinations or bizarre thoughts)
If one or more of these signs occurs, the AACAP suggests that
parents need to talk to their child about their concerns and seek
professional help if the concerns persist. People often feel uncomfortable
talking about death. But asking a child if he/she is depressed
or thinking about suicide can be helpful. Such questions may assure
the child that someone cares and will give him/her the chance to
talk about problems.
The following are some suggestions from the American Association
of Suicidology concerning ways to help anyone who might be suicidal:
- Be direct. Talk openly and matter-of-factly about suicide.
- Be willing to listen. Allow expressions of feelings. Accept
- Be non-judgmental. Don’t debate whether suicide is right
or wrong, or feelings are good or bad. Don’t lecture on
the value of life.
- Get involved. Become available. Show interest and support.
- Don’t dare him/her to do it.
- Don’t act shocked. This will put distance between you.
- Don’t be sworn to secrecy. Seek support.
- Offer hope that alternatives are available but do not offer
- Take action. Remove means, such as guns or stockpiled pills.
- Get help from persons or agencies specializing in crisis intervention
and suicide prevention.
Office of the U.S. Surgeon
American Academy of Child and Adolescent
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
American Association of Suicidology