Thanks to the organizing effort of Ryan’s high school football coach we, along his teammates, participated in the Into the Light walk, a community fund raising and awareness event sponsored by SPEA (Suicide Prevention Education Alliance).
I was amazed to learn that 1 in 5 high school youth seriously consider suicide and 8% of teens attempt suicide during their high school years. Yet suicide is preventable and the depression that usually precedes it is treatable, help and support are available. We just need to reach out for help, either for ourselves or for someone we know that may be having a difficult time.
While we all experience the ups and downs of life, do you find that many teenagers struggle with depression or suicidal ideations? Are they comfortable talking about it and seeking help?
To be at the “Into the Light” walk was truly an amazing experience. I was not only amazed, but touched by some of the stories I heard from everyday people. To my surprise, I even saw the new head lacrosse coach of Western Reserve Academy, one of the best lacrosse schools for high school kids in the Midwest. Not only did I see him there as a supporter of the cause of suicide awareness, he was the main speaker with an incredible story. His brother died by suicide and it put the family through an awful and sorrowful experience. I think the whole event really opened my eyes to how lucky I truly am. It made me realize that anyone can be affected by a tragedy, and it made me realize how important it is to reach out to someone in need.
Ryan, I think this is a great cause to get involved in. My heart goes out to those teenagers who feel so much stress and pressure that they would attempt (or even consider) suicide.
Things seem to be much tougher for teenagers today than when I was young. I might have had to worry about getting into a fight with a bully, but I never had to worry that they might be bringing a gun to school. I was able to be a little lazy, and not worry about my grades. Today it seems so much more competitive that you have to worry about every test and paper. Any grade less than an A will mean you won’t get into the right college, and thus the right graduate school, the right job, and basically ruin your life. When this anxiety is added on to the normal social stresses that all teenagers have, it can seem almost intolerable.
The support systems that these kids can turn to are essential. Let me know what I can do to help as well!
Suicide is really not something that is very public. There were very few situations in high school when suicide was brought up. Whenever it was it was because someone had attempted, which was few and far between. In college I haven’t really experienced cases of suicide any more or less than I did when I was younger.
I only can remember two people who died by suicide and neither of them were directly my friends. I knew them through other people. One was a friend’s brother and the other was a roommate’s best friend. It’s hard because the people left behind are really the victims. They are the ones who have to wonder why.
Suicide is also a hard issue to bring up since there seems to be a stigma attached to it, that people who die by suicide are either looking for attention or condemned for doing so. We learn about it all over the place, school, church, etc. Suicide in the past was regarded as weak and in many religions. You don’t go to heaven if you take your own life.
I am very glad to hear that SPEA is dedicated to growing awareness and support for those affected by suicide. Maybe less people will feel like they have no one to turn to.
In my experience, I’ve seen a few teenagers struggle with depression, but not suicide. As far as depression goes, I feel like it is a relief for kids to get it off their chest. However they are usually embarrassed or uncomfortable to seek help. A lot of the depression I see stems from the radical changes that teens go through during their middle school and high school years. For many, most of it is worked out as they adapt to their lives. However I do have friends who have been in pain for a while and simply can’t take the step necessary to help themselves. It’s very unfortunate to experience. When these people talk to me about it I just beg them to find a psychologist. However in the end, it is their decision.
This does not mean that I would be passive in a more serious situation. If I had any hunch that there could be suicide, I would immediately contact someone who could help.
You can find more information at LifeAct http://lifeact.org