As Pulitzer Prize winner Richard Russo once said, “A lot of what is going on with kids who get pushed too far and commit suicide is that they are trying to deal with their own non-existence for the people who are supposed to care most for them.” The growing occurrences of teenage suicides never seems to stop. Every week, new articles appear, headlined with the name of the next teenager who life has pushed too far. Each name represents a person, a living human being who had friends, family, and most importantly: a future. With each new article that reluctantly announces another teenage suicide, comes a story beginning with the birth of a beautiful, optimistic new life that abruptly ends. A life tragically cut short by society’s pressures. Due to this recent rise of teen suicides caused by extra stress from parents and bullying, parents need to talk more openly about suicide, and schools and the government should educate all citizens about bullying, pressures, and suicide.
     Although the majority of people know about suicide and its dangers, hearing about the issue head-on feels like opening a box that doesn’t want to open, tucked away in the darkest corner of one’s mind, collecting dust. The belief that talking about suicide will only cause more deaths cowardly sways away from the truth. People need to expose themselves and others to the cold, hard facts: suicide takes third place in the leading causes of death among teenagers. As if this doesn’t frighten one enough, experts estimate that for every suicide death, ten others attempt suicide. Above every single right we obtain; the freedom of speech, of religion, of press, comes our right to live. If someone feels like they don’t have that right anymore, if someone feels afraid to live, then we all need to take a step back and think about what our society has turned into.
     Something needs to happen. People didn’t invent antibiotics or cure polio by sitting around saying how they felt sad that thousands of people died. Instead, they stood up, put their mind to it, and did something, anything that they could to stop the deaths. And to stop the deaths, we first need to find the cure. French sociologist Emile Durk said, “Each victim of suicide gives his act a personal stamp which expresses his temperament, the special conditions in which he is involved, and which, consequently, cannot be explained by the social and general causes of the phenomenon.” Although the fact that thousands of various causes lead up to each suicide holds true, we can at least highlight some of them in an attempt to increase awareness. Suicides comes from a combination of many causes such as pressure from peers and parents, bullying, and thinking that a temporary problem such as a bad grade or breakup will end up as a permanent problem. Feeling ashamed of oneself, having homosexual or bisexual feelings, and believing that one’s parents don’t love them also contributes to suicidal feelings.. A combination of all of these leads to a downward spiral of loneliness, which can easily trigger the question of whether or not life still has value . People such as your parents have the duty to always love you and stick with you, no matter what happens. If someone feels like they no longer have this unconditional support, they start to question everything else too, and will do anything to see if this support will ever come back. Having another mental illness such as depression, along with all of these emotional traumas, greatly increases the risk of suicide. According to University of Ottawa psychologist Darcy Santor, at least ninety-one percent of suicide victims suffered from some form of mental illness at the time of their deaths. Many of these illnesses remain undiagnosed, and teenagers more than any other age group face long lines and lists to get into therapy. Opposing Viewpoint’s “We’re Not Going to Sit in Silence,” says that the beginning and end of school years may increase vulnerability for suicidal teenagers, due to the new pressures introduced. Alcohol and drug abuse also has a huge contribution to suicide. Many teenagers commit suicide under the influence of either alcohol or drugs, and simply don’t have right mindset to make such a big decision. Every teenager fails a test or two, doesn’t get enough sleep, and suffers from some form of meanness and heartbreak, and according to “We’re Not Going to Sit in Silence,” many high school students do think, however fleetingly, about suicide. The combination of all of this plus drugs, illnesses, drinking, excessive bullying, unfulfilled love from parents, and pure shame can’t help but lead to the embrace of death.
     Once we know the causes, we can figure out a solution. Although I believe no one method can rid all suicides, a combination of various programs could greatly reduce the numbers. Awareness and not feeling afraid to talk about suicide hold the most importance in the steps to prevention, because not acknowledging the problem only promotes it. If no one acts against suicide, others will start to think that it’s okay, a theory called contagion (We’re Not Going to Sit in Silence). Fearing suicide does not hurt, but only if that fear motivates one to help, and not shy away. If you know someone who has ever even mentioned suicide, don’t take it as a joke. Teenagers have an extremely hard time mentioning suicide to others, and assuming they have exaggerated could cost a life. Having programs in school could also help suicide prevention. Many believe that this would just lead to students making fun of the program, in addition to singling out students who do have depression, but a reformed program could really help educate. Government needs to get involved with this, because many schools don’t have the money. I find it difficult to understand how enough money exists to conduct hearing tests, which do hold importance, but by no means prevail as a life or death situation, while thousands of kids die by suicide every year. Along with school prevention programs, offering free therapy and free parenting classes about how to deal with depressed/suicidal children would also contribute to prevention. Some people just can’t afford the expenses of therapy, and having the ability to talk to someone privately can really help depressed teenagers. Aside from these ideas, many people believe that loving oneself leads to complete happiness and the cure to depression and suicide, but this may not hold true. Fourteen year old Jamey Rodemeyer posted a video to “It Get’s Better”, an anti-suicide website, and said, “Just love yourself, and you’re set.” His family found him dead days later, another victim of suicide. Loving oneself holds immense importance, but that alone doesn’t have the ability to save a person’s life. Everyone needs love from the others too, and although some may not want to admit it, it keeps us going. Just offering support and staying available for someone going through a rough time, instead of ignoring them, could save a life. Talking about suicide certainly does not offer any ease; for example, when you hear the word “suicide,” what come to mind? Sunshine and flowers? Of course not, just the word “suicide” itself brings about feelings of sadness and death, and no one wants to talk about that, but if we all just opened our minds a little and set our minds to it, we could start the long journey of ridding teenage suicides.
     Shelly Graham, just one mother of many who lost a son to suicide wrote a letter to her dead son. Shelly wrote,"I forgive you that you didn't tell me you were in such pain. Please forgive me for not hearing." In this day and age, mentioning the word “suicide” is without a doubt one of the most difficult things for anyone, parent or teenager, to do, yet it is also one of the most important. Suicide has always prevailed as one of society’s many issues, but now these thoughts of death and not feeling wanted have started to cross teenager’s minds. People with bright families and futures ahead of them, people who haven’t gotten the chance to live life to its fullest. Regardless of our beliefs, we need to feel concern and we need to take action. No one wants to experience seeing someone do harm to themselves, and the same ones that would experience watching it remain the same ones who can make a difference (Dr. Rob Good). No matter who you are, where you come from, and what you do, you as a human have an obligation to stop this tragic story from repeating (Mark Miller). "We're not going to sit in silence," said Shelly Graham. "That's why kids are dying."
WORKS CITED:
Astroth, Kirk "Teens Are Not at Risk" Teens at Risk. Laura K. Egendorf and Jennifer A. Hurley,
Eds. Opposing Viewpoints® Series. Greenhaven Press, 1999. Reprinted from Kirk A.
Astroth, "Beyond Ephebiphobia: Problem Adults or Problem Youths?" Phi Delta Kappan, January 1994.
Cullota, Karen "Trends in Teen Suicide Are a Serious Problem" Mental Illness. Roman Espejo, Ed. Opposing Viewpoints® Series. Greenhaven Press, 2012. Karen Ann Cullota, "High Rates of Suicide in Chicago, Suburbs Raise Red Flags," Chicago Tribune, October 15,2010. Copyright © 2010 Chicago Tribune.
Hosansky, David. "Youth Suicide." 2/13/2004. 125-148. CQ Researcher Online. Web.
Kitchell, Dave. "More Needs to Be Done to Prevent Suicide" Suicide. Jacqueline Langwith, Ed.
Opposing Viewpoints® Series. Greenhaven Press, 2008. Dave Kitchell, "Suicide: Society Must Address Causes," www.Pharos-Tribune.com, June 13, 2007. Copyright ©1999-2006 CNHI, Inc.
"New Scarborough walk-in clinic aims to help teens before problems snowball." Globe & Mail [Toronto, Canada] 28 Oct. 2011: A12. Gale Opposing Viewpoints In Context. Web. 20 Nov. 2011.
"'WE'RE NOT GOING TO SIT IN SILENCE'." Globe & Mail [Toronto, Canada] 24 Sept. 2011:F1. Gale Opposing Viewpoints In Context. Web. 20 Nov. 2011.

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