January 2003
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Goodbye Cruel World...
By Natasha B., Fredericton High, Fredericton, NB

Teens need adult guidance more than ever to understand all the emotional and physical changes they are experiencing. When teen moods disrupt their ability to function on a day-to-day basis, it may indicate a serious emotional or mental disorder that needs attention – adolescent depression and suicide.

Every year, thousands of youth die in North America, not from cancer or car accidents, but by their own hand. They make the choice that they want to die, and they take their own life. Statistics show that suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death among those 15 to 25 years of age, and it is the 6th leading cause of death among those 5 to 14 years of age. Five year old children, killing themselves! But it's the truth! Statistics show that more than 13 of every 100,000 teenagers took their life in 1990, and that number's rising every year. Many think that these are isolated incidents, but they aren't. It is estimated that 500,000 teenagers try to kill themselves every year, and about 5000 succeed. 5000, that is right up there with cancer and homicide.

Sometimes teens feel so depressed that they consider ending their lives. Each year, almost 5,000 young people, ages 15 to 24, kill themselves. The rate of suicide for this age group has nearly tripled since 1960, making it the third leading cause of death in adolescents and the second leading cause of death among college age youth.

Studies show that suicide attempts among young people may be based on long standing problems triggered by a specific event. Suicidal adolescents may view a temporary situation as a permanent condition. Feelings of anger and resentment combined with exaggerated guilt can lead to impulsive, self-destructive acts.

Offer help and listen. Encourage depressed teens to talk about their feelings. Listen, don't lecture. Trust your instincts. If it seems that the situation may be serious, seek help. Break a confidence if necessary, in order to save a life. Pay attention to talk about suicide. Ask direct questions and don't be afraid of discussions. Silence is deadly! Seek professional help. It is essential to seek expert advice from a mental health professional who has experience helping depressed teens. Also, alert key adults in the teen's life – family, friends and teacher.


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