Uncomfortable subject, teen suicide deserves increased attention

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Over the past 20 years, the U.S. suicide rate has been increasing to the point that itís one of the leading causes of death.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reports the suicide rate is up among every age group under 75, but as tragic as that is, worse is the fact that itís tripled among young girls between 10 and 14.

Thatís not a subject most of us would like to spend our spare time exploring, but the Netflix video streaming service takes on in ď13 Reasons Why,Ē a series based on the 2007 young adult novel of the same name by Jay Asher.

In the story, a young woman makes 13 cassette tapes, sending them after her death to people who played a part in her decision to take her own life.

Creators Selena Gomez and her mother, Mandy Teefey, insist it does nothing to glorify suicide.

ďWeíve seen some shows,Ē Teefey said, ďwhere it seems almost glorified, or itís cinematically beautiful. We didnít want to come off like that, like you can take a handful of pills and your troubles will be over.

ďThatís not an answer. It just means youíre gone.Ē

Uncomfortable as it is, itís a subject that needs to be explored.

According to the CDC, suicide is the second leading cause of death for young people aged 10-24. Seventeen percent of high school aged students said they had considered suicide in the past year and 8 percent made one or more suicide attempt.

The suicide rate for girls aged 10-14 has increased 200 percent between 1999 and2014.

Experts say early puberty may be a factor, as girls can begin puberty at eight years old when they are more likely to experience depression.

Children aged 8-18 spend an average of 71⁄2 hours on social media, and those with the heaviest social media use report more sadness and boredom.

Teenage girls are 21 percent more likely to be cyberbullied, and children who suffer such attacks are twice as likely to attempt suicide than those who do not.

These conditions make it more important than ever for friends and parents to know how to recognize depression in teens.

Signs and symptoms include difficulty concentrating, frequent crying, restlessness, agitation, aches and pains and expressing their thoughts of suicide by making jokes about it or romanticizing it.

If any of these are noticed, itís better to take action sooner than later. To determine whether itís real trouble or just a little teen angst, observe whether the depression has been going on for a long time.

The best ways to respond include taking the time to listen instead of lecturing, be gentle yet persistent, encourage them to see friends rather than staying in isolation, and make sure they are getting exercise, healthy food and plenty of sleep.

Information and links to other resources are available at http://bit.ly/2nArNqp .

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