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Not Dealing With it
By Sheila E., Grade 12, Fredericton High, Fredericton, NB

Stressful times, heartaches, illness and all of the other events of living we have come to expect are also things that many of us cannot accept.

No matter the age, sex, lifestyle or location of a person, everyone has to deal with the many disappointments that life throws unfairly at us. However, some people deal with their problems better than others do.

When someone you know or even a stranger approaches another person and spills themselves out to that person about his or her problems and feelings, the best thing the listener should do is in fact listen. By listening to the hassled person and allowing them to vent the listener is already helping them. One should always take a desperate person seriously, avoid giving unwanted suggestions and never pass judgement or make fun of the other person. If that person asks, give them a help line number or refer them to a professional for help. Always acknowledge that the person is cared about and loved and never leave a suicidal person alone when he or she is determined they have no reason to exist.

Many times a potential suicide victim just needs to know someone cares. By keeping a positive attitude and never encouraging them, even if joking, to commit the deed may be enough of a boost to start them on the right path of solving their problems.

The issue does not come up very often in this high school, said Mr. Don Davis, a guidance counsellor at Fredericton High School. But when it does the students just come to me to talk to make them feel better.

The thought of suicide is caused by an emotional state of depression when a person feels that he, she, or those around them would be better off if he or she were dead. By not allowing troubles to persist and numerous ones build up prevents stress and future depression.

Anybody could think back to a time when he/she were so overwhelmed that they had a brief thought of suicide. This is typical among us as human beings, not that it is right, but it does occur and fortunately, we excuse the thought and find an alternate way; that is most of us do. These are usually short-term feelings and are exempted within a few days. Long-term thoughts of suicide may be more dangerous for the person is not only feeling that there is nothing to live for, but he/she is also believing and planting this in their mind instead of trying to overcome it.

Students, high school students mainly, are dealing with many new challenges at this point in their lives. They are maturing, more is expected of them and they are becoming more independent. All of these factors lead to love lives, grades, work, friends, money, drugs, liquor and many other things that involve life-changing decisions.

I think females are like more open about suicide stuff and their feelings, said Erica H., a student at Fredericton High School. So that makes them seem like they're most affected by it.

In fact, males are more affected by suicide than females, shown in this chart from Statistics Canada.

1996 1997 1981 1991 1996 1997
Number of suicides Suicide rate per 100,000 population
All Ages 3,941 3,681 14.0 13.3 13.2 12.3
Males 3,093 2,914 21.3 21.6 20.8 19.6
Females 848 767 6.8 5.3 5.6 5.1
1 - 14 years 41 51 0.7 0.6 0.7 0.9
Males 32 39 1.0 0.7 1.1 1.4
Females 9 12 0.4 0.4 0.3 0.4
15 - 19 years 231 261 12.7 13.8 11.5 12.9
Males 190 207 21.2 23.0 18.5 19.9
Females 41 54 3.8 4.0 4.2 5.5
20-24 years 350 293 19.6 18.2 17.2 14.5
Males 300 257 33.2 31.7 29.0 24.9
Females 50 36 5.9 4.1 5.0 3.6
24-44 years 1,770 1,549 17.4 18.1 17.9 15.8
Males 1,390 1,228 26.2 28.8 24.7 25.0
Females 380 321 8.6 7.6 8.6 6.6
45 - 64 years 1,060 1,075 20.1 16.2 16.6 16.5
Males 786 826 28.6 25.7 24.7 25.5
Females 274 249 11.9 6.9 8.6 7.6
65 years & over 489 452 18.3 14.2 13.4 12.4
Males 395 357 30.4 26.3 25.6 23.0
Females 94 95 9.2 5.6 4.5 4.5
Not Stated - - x x x x
Males - - x x x x
Females - - x x x x
- nil or zero
Source: Statistics Canada, Health Statistics Division


As you can see from the chart above high school students are not the most affected age group of suicide, but a significant number unfortunately still do turn to it. Suicide seems to be more of an issue to people who have already graduated from high school and are in the work force, or has previously been in the work force.

What are we doing to prepare students for life? Well, we send them to school to learn academics, but we do not stress enough about solving our own problems. How is knowledge of solving a math problem going to talk us out of jumping off the roof? People are very open nowadays about sex, diseases, sexuality, race and religion, but people are still quiet about the topic of suicide. If it is not discussed than, we cannot help the many potential victims.

Never call the individual bluff or tease him/her. Even though depression is a common sign for suicidal behaviour, sometimes the signs are more subtle and easily over-looked. This is why when we ask someone how they are doing, we should listen to their reply and not expect the general response Good. Watch the person's facial expressions and body language. If someone seems uneasy or unhappy, it is always helpful to stop and ask the person more about themselves. It only takes a few seconds to tell them to call sometime to hang out or talk.

Suicide is used as a way out, and escape from life. Little do we realize that what is waiting for us after life may be worse and inescapable. A potential suicide victim in high school has so much to experience and suffers from lack of experience to get them through tough times. Many young people endure such atrocities as rape, family abuse, incest, illness, death and/or loss of loved one and other things that were never of their control that happened in their lives that will affect them forever&how ever long that is. To make their healing process easier help is available, just not advertised enough to notify them that it is. Something as tragic and avoidable as suicide should not be an issue for high school students, therefore, should be taken more seriously when young Suzy says she hates life and wishes she would die.


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