After spending numerous amount of years with teenagers I can’t remember a time when there has not been at least one teen who has flirted with the idea of suicide. It seems there is always a teen struggling with suicide and even the extremes of cutting themselves or some sort of self mutilation.
Because of this I decided to take a look at how drug addiction can lead to teen suicide.
Something that we don’t think of is the connection between teen drug abuse and suicide. There are some studies that would suggest that teens who use drugs regularly are more likely to consider suicide as well as to act upon their thoughts. According to the American Psychiatric Association, many teens suffer from depression.
When a teen is living in this world of depression it is not unlikely that they would find a means of “self-medicate” with drugs in order to avoid exposing themselves to their friends or adults. As we know through years of dealing with teens and their drug abuse that the use of drugs does not alleviate the problems, but instead, usually aggravate them, leaving the teen with a feeling of helplessness and hopelessness. This places them at greater risk for suicide attempts.
From my own personal experience and watching the decisions that teens make while they are abusing drugs, we see that the use of drugs will cloud their judgment, and lower their natural survival instinct. Drug use affects the chemical balance of the brain, intensifying feelings of sadness, depression and loneliness. In an article I wrote on teen withdrawal we can see just having to deal with the withdrawal from the drug, and intense feelings of crashing profoundly affect the young person’s mind and mood. While these factors exist in adult addicts, they are more intensified in the young adult and teen, particularly due to his dependency upon adults.
Something we do not understand nor think of when it comes to the progression of usage of drugs among teenagers is that they have a readily supply of tools that could either help them commit suicide or even lead to an untimely death. Overdosing is one of the easiest and most common methods of suicide.
Did you know that suicide is the third leading cause of death amongst young people from the ages of fifteen to twenty-four.
The one thing we are noticing is that teens, especially today, are under a tremendous amount of pressure. Caught in the crossroads between childhood and adulthood, teens are filled with conflicts about themselves, their identity, and their place in the world. It is not uncommon for teens today battle between peer pressure and performance placed upon them from society and even at times parents to perform and do so perfectly all the time.
These factors, coupled with their perception that the adult world doesn’t or can’t, understand their angst, leave them vulnerable and isolated. These factors contribute to both addiction and suicidal intention, both of which also feed on the other.
I have been told that some of the methods for treating a teen with suicidal intentions are very similar to treating teens with addictions. Some have said that most of the root causes are quite similar. The most important thing for an adult to provide the teen, is an avenue of communication. I have an article “8 tips to get your teen hearing you again” that will help you communicate with your teen.
Something that we know to be true is that communication between a teen and their parents is vital to any type of recovery. Teens need to feel as though they have someone they can turn too and express their feelings and problems. He or she need to feel that they are not isolated. There are people who care about them. They are not the only one who is struggling with these problems. This of course is only the first step. If a teen is suicidal they need to receive professional guidance.
Here are some suicide facts you should be aware of:
A teen that has lost a friend to suicide is at higher risk for depression, delinquency and drug abuse. (Estimates by the American Association of Suicidology place this risk at three times that of the average teen.)
Studies reveal that a family member of a loved one who has committed suicide is at up to 5 times the risk for suicide themselves.
Suicide facts indicate that thousands of children and adolescents are affected by a suicide each year.
Emotional distress of child survivors of suicide may go unnoticed if they do not have a chance to share their pain.
We can all help in suicide prevention by learning about statistics, suicide rates and teen suicide.
There is no timetable for recovery, suicide survivors are forever changed by the tragedy.