THE LOSS OF OUR FUTURE: TEEN SUICIDE
No one likes to think of having to mourn one’s own child. It is not supposed to happen that way. The natural order of the circle of life is that the parents pass on and the children carry on the family name. We as a society shun the word Death and substitute niceties such as deceased and departed.
As a counsellor of youth I have been most fortunate to have never had a student of mine commit suicide. Lots of luck and a psychic nose has allowed me to ask the right question at critical moments.
I remember counselling an eighteen year old young man who when I asked “how things were going answered with a simple “Not Bad”. Would you say good I asked and he responded “no, I am thinking about taking my life”. He wanted the pain he was enduring to end.
When students would ask if the information that they gave me would remain confidential I always replied that as long as there was no threat to themselves or others I would not divulge what I heard.
However if I felt I felt there was a concern I was obliged to act in my student’s best behalf and inform their parents of the impending risks.
Stats Canada, 2007 Suicides and Suicide rates by age had some interesting numbers. 2,724 males and 884 females committed suicide. Women cry for help and men die The numbers speak for themselves with three to one men committing suicide compared to the females.
For the age group 15-19 year old teens we had 131 males and 54 females take their lives So much for the myth that we men are the tough, indomitable heroes of society.
We have to concern ourselves with the stats that one third of all deaths of teens is attributable to self-destruction. I am no expert on the solutions but have a few suggestions to offer parents after counselling for over four decades.
Happy well adjusted youngsters who have a reason to be and do not take their lives. Girls are emotionally stronger than boys and are not afraid of asking for help; the high school counselling offices have an abundance of requests from females seeking help from their counsellors.
Rarely do young men make appointments to see their high school counsellors for emotional concerns. Girls have an abundance of female friends along with their mothers who are good listeners to the needs of their female counterparts.
Boys are often loners and do not have a sense of trust in their male friends to ask for assistance. Rarely do young males ask their mother or fathers for assistance. Asking for help has not been considered macho or cool for our teen aged young men In our society males have not been taught to show their emotions.
Teen-aged boys may be six foot two and 180 pounds but that does not make them less needy of our love and attention. Young men have to be taught that crying or asking for help is a natural acceptable response to life’s problems.
Parents/teachers who take the time to care about the well being of teenage males can with their actions keep meaningful dialogue open.
Remember to never diminish or laugh at a person’s dreams. I will always remember a young man, who took his life in his parents garage the evening after being told by his teacher that calculus was too difficult. He had aspirations of being an engineer and math was a mandatory requirement.
At his funeral an eighteen year old young women who sat beside me told me that the proceedings were pretty cool.
Cool, I questioned, why would you envy a classmate’s funeral?” Look at the large crowd, flowers, Cadillac limos, choir and admiring friends and eulogies I have never had that much attention in my whole life”.
In my opinion teen suicides are tragic events that do not warrant praise or notoriety.
The taking of one’s life should never be a viable alternative for our children. It goes against nature not to endure and live life to the fullest.
Victor Frankl has written a wonderful book,”Man’s Search for Meaning” where he describes the experiences as an inmate of a concentration camp in Poland during the Second World War. Interesting, very few of the starving, vanquished people committed suicide. “Frankl is fond of quoting Nietzshe. “He who has a WHY to live for can bear with almost any HOW.”
The sages teach us that: “Yesterday is history, to-morrow is a mystery and to-day we call the present because it is a gift.”Please take the time to know/ talk to your children and tell them that you love them.