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Transcript of Teen Suicide
It is very important to monitor all medications in your home. Some teens will even "trade" different prescription medications at school and carry or store them in a locker or backpack.
In the U.S., suicide rates are highest during the spring.
Suicide rates differ between boys and girls.
Girls think about and attempt suicide about twice as often as boys, and tend to attempt suicide by overdosing on drugs or cutting themselves.
Yet boys die by suicide about four times as often girls, perhaps because they tend to use more lethal methods, such as firearms, hanging, or jumping from heights.
Nearly 30,000 Americans commit suicide every year.
Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death for 15 to 24-year-olds and 2nd for 24 to 35-year-olds.
On average, 1 person commits suicide every 16.2 minutes.
Each suicide intimately affects at least 6 other people.
About 2/3 of people who complete suicide are depressed at the time of their deaths. Depression that is untreated, undiagnosed, or ineffectively treated is the number 1 cause of suicide.
There is 1 suicide for every 25 attempted suicides.
Males make up 79% of all suicides, while women are more prone to having suicidal thoughts.
Monday, February 17, 2014
Vol XCIII, No. 311
Things to watch for:
What is teen suicide?
Teen suicide is a growing health concern.
There are many normal pressures of teen life that might make an adolescent consider suicide, but there are also specific circumstances that can contribute even more pressure. It’s especially difficult when adolescents are confronted with problems that are out of their control, such as:
It is the third-leading cause of death for young people 15-24 surpassed only by homicide and accidents, according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
It is thought that 25 attempts of suicide are made for every completed teen suicide.
The risk of suicide increased when teens and kids have access to firearms at home.
Overdose using over-the-counter prescription and non-prescription medicine is very common in attempts and completions of suicides.
Sydney Sanders was a young teenager who was popular, beautiful, and athletic. She was only 14 years old when her big sister found that she had hung herself in her bedroom.
This was not the first attempt. On Valentine's Day earlier that year, Sydney tried to commit suicide by overdose and slitting her throat. She was in the hospital for 10 days and after she was cleared to leave, she was immediately enrolled with many different psychologists and therapists to help find the underlying problems to her attempt at suicide.
After a couple of months she was released with all of her doctors telling her mother that she was never going to attempt suicide again. When Sydney committed suicide, there were no signs, no hints, nothing to suggest she had been in deep enough pain that she would try and end her life by her own hand.
Sydney did not understand that killing herself would affect so may other people. She did not consider any other options besides dying. Sydney's family left the house where Sydney died because they could not stop thinking that Sydney had killed herself in the room right next to them.
The family founded a non-profit foundation called Forever 4 Change to promote suicide awareness and counseling.
• a new family formation
• moving to a different community
• physical or sexual abuse
• emotional neglect
• exposure to domestic violence
• alcoholism in the home
• substance abuse
Many suicides are committed by people who are depressed. Depression is a mental health disorder, and you can get help for it by expressing your concerns to a doctor.
Suicidal tendencies don't just appear out of the blue: People usually display a number of warning signs when things seem to go wrong in their lives and they've simply given up hope.
• withdrawal from family and peers
• loss of interest in previously pleasurable activities
• difficulty concentrating on schoolwork
• neglect of personal appearance
• obvious changes in personality
• sadness and hopelessness
• changes in eating patterns, such as sudden weight loss or gain
• changes in sleep patterns
• general lethargy or lack of energy
• symptoms of clinical depression
• violent actions, rebellion, or running away
• drug and alcohol use
• symptoms that are often related to emotional state (e.g., headaches, fatigue, stomach aches)
• loss of ability to tolerate praise or rewards
Though many suicidal teens appear depressed or downcast, others hide their problems underneath a disguise of excess energy.
More obvious signs that an adolescent may be suicidal include low self-esteem and self-deprecating remarks.
Some teens come right out and talk or write about their suicidal thoughts - this should be taken seriously, and not ignored with the hope that it's a passing phase.
1 in 65,000 children ages 10 to 14 commit suicide each year.
There are 2 times as many deaths due to suicide than HIV/AIDS.
About eight percent of kids in grades 9-12 reported trying to kill themselves at some point in 2011.
When talking to a suicidal person you should:
When talking to a suicidal person you shouldn't:
Be yourself. Let the person know you care, that he/she is not alone. The right words are often unimportant. If you are concerned, your voice and manner will show it.
Listen. Let the suicidal person unload despair, ventilate anger. No matter how negative the conversation seems, the fact that it exists is a positive sign.
Be sympathetic, non-judgmental, patient, calm, accepting. Your friend or family member is doing the right thing by talking about his/her feelings.
Offer hope. Reassure the person that help is available and that the suicidal feelings are temporary. Let the person know that his or her life is important to you.
If the person says things like, “I’m so depressed, I can’t go on,” ask the question: “Are you having thoughts of suicide?” You are not putting ideas in their head, you are showing that you are concerned, that you take them seriously, and that it’s OK for them to express their feelings to you.
Argue with the suicidal person. Avoid saying things like: "You have so much to live for," "Your suicide will hurt your family," or “Look on the bright side.”
Act shocked, lecture on the value of life, or say that suicide is wrong.
Promise confidentiality. Refuse to be sworn to secrecy. A life is at stake and you may need to speak to a mental health professional in order to keep the suicidal person safe. If you promise to keep your discussions secret, you may have to break your word.
Offer ways to fix their problems, or give advice, or make them feel like they have to justify their suicidal feelings. It is not about how bad the problem is, but how badly it’s hurting your friend or loved one.
Blame yourself. You can’t “fix” someone’s depression. Your loved one’s happiness, or lack thereof, is not your responsibility.
How to help:
Get professional help. Do everything in your power to get a suicidal person the help he or she needs. Call a crisis line for advice and referrals. Encourage the person to see a mental health professional, help locate a treatment facility, or take them to a doctor's appointment.
Follow-up on treatment. If the doctor prescribes medication, make sure your friend or loved one takes it as directed. Be aware of possible side effects and be sure to notify the physician if the person seems to be getting worse. It often takes time and persistence to find the medication or therapy that’s right for a particular person.
Be proactive. Those contemplating suicide often don't believe they can be helped, so you may have to be more proactive at offering assistance. Saying, “Call me if you need anything” is too vague. Don’t wait for the person to call you or even to return your calls. Drop by, call again, and invite the person out.
Encourage positive lifestyle changes, such as a healthy diet, plenty of sleep, and getting out in the sun or into nature for at least 30 minutes each day. Exercise is also extremely important as it releases endorphins, relieves stress, and promotes emotional well-being.
Make a safety plan. Help the person develop a set of steps he or she promises to follow during a suicidal crisis. It should identify any triggers that may lead to a suicidal crisis, such as an anniversary of a loss, alcohol, or stress from relationships. Also include contact numbers for the person's doctor or therapist, as well as friends and family members who will help in an emergency.
Remove potential means of suicide, such as pills, knives, razors, or firearms. If the person is likely to take an overdose, keep medications locked away or give out only as the person needs them.
Continue your support over the long haul. Even after the immediate suicidal crisis has passed, stay in touch with the person, periodically checking in or dropping by. Your support is vital to ensure your friend or loved one remains on the recovery track.
In the 1998 cult classic 'Heathers', there is a scene where Veronica comes home to find her parents glued to the TV set. The news was covering a wave of thought-to-be suicides.
Veronica starts to yell at her parents, "Can't you see? These little programs are eating suicide up with a spoon. They're making it sound like it's a cool thing to do."
At this moment in the film a girl called Martha is walking out into traffic to attempt suicide. Heather No. 2 says "It is just another case of geek trying to imitate the popular people of the school and failing miserably."
Even though media- fueled teen suicide outbreaks sound like things out of Hollywood films, research published today in The Lancet Psychiatry journal confirms that copycat suicides are real.
“It just seems so frightening, but a lot of behaviors are modeled,” says Dr. Madelyn Gould of the New York State Psychiatric Institute and lead author of the study.
Heightened newspaper coverage following a young adult’s suicide is significantly linked to self-inflicted deaths, according to Gould’s research.
Her study finds that the more sensational the reporting, the more details provided, and the more prominent the story’s placement, the more likely it was that additional suicides would follow.
The study reinforces the opinion that irresponsible reporting on suicide overwhelmingly impacts the young. According to another study by the same author, the prevalence of copycat suicide is up to four times higher in young adults than any other age group.
Most of this research leans on social learning theory, the idea that when a vulnerable teen identifies with a suicide victim, he might choose the same fate, thinking, “’Well, maybe that’s a way out for me. I’m experiencing that same pain, those same problems,’” Gould explains.
It might not even be a conscious decision, she says: “It may just activate a suicidal thought in someone that has it in the back of their heads. You don’t want this thought to become a behavior.”
Gould used state records from 1988 - 1996 to identify "clustered" suicides that occurred in the same city or within three months of each other. She also used a control group pooling the data of young suicide victims from non- neighboring counties within the same state whose death occurred after the three-month period.
Gould looked at 48 suicide clusters and found that more articles on the deaths were published following the initial cluster suicide than after the non-clustered suicides. In 25% of the cases for the clustered suicides at least one story about the original victim had been published.
The type of coverage with the clustered suicides was more significant than with the non-clustered.
Gould found that with the first suicide in a cluster it was more likely to be printed on the front page with pictures and specific details about how the suicide was completed.
Gould's research matched up with David Phillips, a sociologist who also believed in copycat suicides.
Phillips came up with "The Werther Effect" which was named after a book that featured a fictional suicide that was thought to be copied so many times by real people that the book was banned in several countries.
Philips' example was Marilyn Monroe's death. Her suicide was correlated with over 300 "copycat" suicides.
Phillips' work was the first to show an increase in the number of suicides after an initial suicide stayed on the front pages.
Phillips' stated "Teenagers are highly imitative, influenced by fads and fashions in general."
Gould believes the results are strong enough to suggest that the press should be more responsible in its coverage of a suicide.
In 1987, as part of a suicide pact, four New Jersey teenagers drove into a garage and left the motor running. At least seven suicides by carbon monoxide poisoning quickly followed.
The Suicide Prevention Center provides guidelines for journalists for reports on suicides. Many reporters have made it newsroom priority to try and avoid reports that could cause a copycat suicide.
Google and social networking cites erase any limitations that bounded print news. Many studies suggest that the Internet is linked with an increase in self-harm and suicide.
Stephen posted a message on an online message board. It stated "This is it tonight I will be ending my own life."
Two hundred viewers egged Stephen on while he downed handfuls of pills and vodka, and then lit himself and his dorm room on fire.
There are very few options that can be incorporated into treatment for teens who need treatment for suicidal thoughts and attempts.
Individual therapy. This is suicide treatment that involves therapy just for the teenager to help him or her work through feelings and suicidal thoughts.
Family therapy. Sometimes family therapy works best in instances of teen suicide treatment. This can provide a supportive environment for the teenager, as well as help the family learn how to cope with the problem and work together.
Hospitalization. In some cases, it is necessary to provide a teenager with a secure, safe and constantly supervised environment. Most in-patient suicide treatment includes therapeutic aspects, and offers the kind of supervision that might be necessary in extreme cases.