2018-06-17 / Insight

Nearly 10 percent of kids in high school think about suicide

Today’s column isn’t going to be a light and bright one, as The County Press staff talks about suicide with the readers. It’s a topic that many don’t want to talk about, but that many should. The subject has come to the forefront once again after the suicides of two renowned celebrities over the past two weeks — designer Kate Spade and chef and TV personality Anthony Bourdain.

People may not think of teens too often when suicide is the topic, but the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention says that based on the 2015 Youth Risk Behaviors Survey, 8.6 percent of youth in grades 9-12 reported that they had made at least one suicide attempt in the past 12 months. That’s enough to make the hair stand up on every parent’s neck. One death is too many, let alone nearly 10 percent of high schoolers.

Data shows that girls attempted twice as often as boys (11.6 percent vs. 5.5 percent) and teens of Hispanic origin reported the highest rate of attempt (11.3 percent), especially Hispanic females (15.1 percent) when compared with white students (6.8 percent) and white females (9.8 percent). Approximately 2.8 percent reported making a suicide attempt that required treatment by a doctor or nurse. For those, rates were highest for Hispanic students with black males (4.0 percent) and Hispanic males (2.9 percent) having higher rates than white males (0.9 percent).

Are you swallowing hard yet? This could be your son or daughter, who has thought about ending their life, or who will think about it at least once during their high school years. In our newspaper group, we have covered at least four suicides by teens over the past 10 years. A football player in Swartz Creek got up one morning and instead of going to school, took a shotgun from the house and took his own life. Another hanged himself, and yet another shot himself.

It doesn’t matter the method used, but that a child found life so unbearable that they wanted out. It’s alarming to think that in households across this county we have kids thinking about doing the same. Bullying still remains one of the top reasons. Online, in the neighborhood, inside your own home perhaps, kids are thinking of themselves as unwanted, unloved and a burden to everyone. That’s more than just sad. That’s tragic.

Suicide is preventable. There is always hope, the experts implore. Don’t let your child be one of those that sulks around the house, locking themselves in their room. That’s a red flag for any parent. Bedrooms should be for sleeping and sleeping alone. There should be no TVs, computers or other electronics in kids’ rooms, in my opinion. If your child can’t do any of those activities out in the open where you or your significant other can either watch with them, or walk by unannounced asking, “hey, whatcha doin?” That’s a problem.

As school ends and summer starts, kids will have too much free time on their hands that many don’t know how to handle. Do the right thing; pull them out of their rooms, and have daily conversations with them. Make them have dinner with the family, assess their moods, actions and what they are saying. You could end up saving a life.

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