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Preventing Teenage Suicide in America

People have the power to positively or negatively transform a person’s life. It seems that the influence on some people’s lives has been more damaging than uplifting, resulting in suicides. There are 4,600 youth suicides each year among those aged 10 to 24, according to Statistic Brain.

Young adults can help to prevent teenage suicide among their peers by becoming aware of the warning signs, knowing the difference between facts and myths, spreading awareness about it and referring people to programs. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) has identified the warning signs of a person wanting to die by suicide. These include making a plan, talking about it, isolating themselves from others, acting completely differently, feeling like a burden, using drugs or alcohol excessively and sleeping for long or short quantities of time. Pay attention to the warning signals that people portray verbally, such as stating lack of worth, and nonverbally, such as sleeping for long periods of time. Knowing these signs will also help you become more perceptive of others’ thoughts and actions. Then, if a close friend states, “I have my plan, and I am going to end everything tonight. I’m tired of being a burden,” the person understands that their close friend needs immediate assistance. Being conscious of suicide facts is essential to preventing it.

Members of the U.S. Army participating in a Suicide Awareness RunFlickr | Creative Commons

Members of the U.S. Army participating in a Suicide Awareness Run

People have particular assumptions about teenage suicide. The first step in preventing suicide is learning accurate information about suicide. The AFSP states that one myth about suicide is that people cannot prevent it, which is not true because people usually tell someone in hopes of getting help. It is a myth that people die by suicide for attention. In fact, about 90 percent of suicide victims have one or more treatable mental illnesses. The AFSP claims that the idea that adolescents and young adults are the most at risk for suicide is myth because the suicide rate of this age group is lower than the national average. The next myth the AFSP notes is that treatments, including therapy and medications, don’t work, but they have helped suicide victims with mental illnesses. An additional myth the foundation addresses is that reduction of access to methods of dying by suicide will not prevent it, but this neglects the fact that it can give the person time to calm down.

The next step in preventing suicide is figuring out how to inform others about suicide and its prevention. Spreading awareness can assist in saving lives and help others see the purpose behind the message. This act of sharing information can be as simple as asking a friend who shows the warning signs if they are planning to commit suicide. Another way to gain awareness of suicide is by attending a suicide prevention convention. Then, students could plan events to encourage attendance during the National Suicide Prevention Week, which occurred from Monday, Sept. 8 to Sunday, Sept. 14. The Eastern community could collectively work to changing the mindset that suicide prevention is a lost cause among the faculty and students. Also, students, professors and staff could have a discussion panel about suicide myths versus facts and ways to prevent it.

There are resources for people contemplating suicide. Some resources have already been mentioned, such as therapy and medication, but there are other options to get help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline states that a person can be motivated to not attempt suicide by viewing empowering videos, reading about how others overcame suicide and making a system that helps with tough moments.

Life is precious and worth dealing with, even in the moments of difficulty. If people are willing to, they can help to inform others, which can aid in preventing suicide. People should step out of their comfort zones and change their perceptions of suicide.

If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 immediately.

Sources: http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org, http://www.afsp.org, http://www.statisticbrain.com

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