Thursday, May 4, 2017

Suicide and adolescences.

Dear Parents,

Do you know how hard it is growing up as an adolescent in the 21st century? The challenges that technology, social media, friendships, grade based school and examination systems, university entry and finding a job place on the merging generation are huge. Add to this the perceived responsibility for saving the world, creating world peace and ending poverty that many of Generation X and Z have assumed and it is no surprise that depression and anxiety have reached unprecedented levels amongst adolescents today. Many students are ill prepared for these challenges and perceived responsibilities because they have been cocooned from pressures by over active helicopter parents protecting them from failure, responsibility for their choices and decision making at younger ages.

I want to share with you two pieces of information that I think you need to be aware about so that you can support your daughters and sons. Firstly there is on Netflix a series entitled 13 Reason Why. This is about a teenager who committed suicide and left tapes about . Here is a good article from The Atlantic about '13 Reasons Why' and the controversy that it has sparked.

Secondly there is a new game/ challenge, Blue Whale, that is becoming popular and again focuses on suicide as the last challenge in  along series that include self harming. Here is a video about Blue Whale:

As you can see from the embedded articles and the video these two media forms are playing on a vulnerable area for many teenagers in our schools. Depression, anxiety leading to suicide is a major concern for teenagers in our ever changing world regardless of media popularizing it as an acceptable action. Here is a very good site from, the Jason Foundation, that provides information about teenage suicide, signs to recognize and common myths.

In his recent blog post on Growing Leaders, Tim Elmore provided the following questions that can be discussed with children/ students to help them with their thinking.

Questions to Discuss with Your Students

  1. How can people feel lonely when they are never alone and always connected?
  2. Why do kids often feel depressed as they post happy pics on social media?
  3. We know that life is always better than death. But why is that so?
  4. What enables a student to hide their loneliness or angst, and later surprise people with a suicide?
  5. When is it time to “give a friend space” and when must we intrude if we suspect someone is contemplating suicide?
  6. What drives a person over the line when they believe ending their life is better than pushing ahead with life?
  7. If you or someone you know is considering suicide, where should or could you go to get help?
    (Hint: make sure to mention: school counselors, parents, teachers, and administration.

The key is not to over dramatize the situation and to always ensure that your daughters and sons  know that they have someone they can talk to about anything that is troubling them before it becomes too much for them to cope with. Communication, openness and willingness to listen non judgmentally to your children as they grow up is essential for creating trusting relationships in the home that allow children to share their problems.

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