There is an epidemic that is facing our teenagers and researchers want to know why. Teen suicide has become even more prevalent than it already was, now the second leading cause of death among those between the ages of 12 and 18. Even younger kids, aged as low as 10, are even becoming victims of this horrifying statistic.
While there is no single reason for this increase in suicide, the emotional well being of our children is certainly under the microscope. Teenage boys seem to be especially at risk, with four times as many teenage boys than girls successfully committing the act.
One way to get on top of the issue is to understand the common challenges faced by teen boys before they graduate High School.
- Hyperconnectivity – A term coined for the modern era, this is a unique phenomenon facing teenagers today that has never been seen before. In the Time articles listen earlier in this post there is a teenage girl describing her emotional reaction when she learned an Instagram model she followed had been kidnapped and murdered. It was devastating to her because she had built a connection to the young woman, even though they had never met. The internet and social media has given our teens a personal access to others across the world. While this has its benefits, it also has its drawbacks. With teenagers often unable to separate their online and real lives (and with the two having very little disconnect to begin with) this can be a massive problem. Some parents are choosing to take more extreme action to extract their children from this connectivity, choosing specialized schools to deal with their issues.
- Drug Abuse – Did you know that more than 78% of teens had drank alcohol and more than 42% had used drugs when asked by a national survey? Drug abuse is a very real problem for teenagers in the US today. It is exacerbated by the fact that teenagers don’t have the mental development to make good choices in many situations, which puts them at higher risk when using illicit substances.
- Heartbreak – The teen years are usually the time when most of us have our first real romantic relationships. Unfortunately it is also when we experience the sting of heartbreak, which when you are young can feel like the literal end of the world.
- Increase In Academic Stress – High school might not be the way you remember it. There is a serious increase the amount of work, difficulty in class and the overall strain of performance as teens try to compete and get coveted spots in top colleges and programs. It is more competitive, costly and hard than ever, with some having to rely on scholarships and so putting even more pressure on them to succeed.
- Pressure To Get a Job – Another way in which this issue manifests is in the need to find employment. Economic times have been hard for many families and money for college might not be there when the time comes for your teen to head from home to make it on a campus. This is leading to more teens taking after school jobs, adding stress and making it harder for them to focus on their studies and their peer groups. Social interaction and relationships are very important during this formative time and so this can be very damaging to the student in question who is trying to juggle work, school and play.
- Body Image Issues – This is often associated with teenage girls but boys can be just as deeply impacted by body and self image issues. They may see themselves as too skinny, too short, too fat or not attractive enough. They could be self conscious about their acne, hair or any number of other physical attributes that make them feel less impressive than their peers.
- Fracturing Of Friend Groups – High school can be a contentious time and sadly not all friendships will make it through. By the time the transition is made from junior high to later grades those people who were so important in your son’s life could have moved on to other groups. This fracturing can be deeply painful, even devastating, and lead to self esteem problems and anger.
- Identity Struggles – No one knows who they are when they are teenagers, but they desperately want to. During times like these where so many social causes are in the media, identity struggles can be especially difficult to manage. For some there will be deeper ones to address, while for others it will be a general lack of understanding of who they are, what they want and what they need.
- Depression and Anxiety – This is a big problem for many teenagers in the world today, often caused by the above struggles that they are facing. Many parents will shrug off emotional signs as normal growing pains. But studies have shown that as many as 3 million underage people every year face major depressive episodes and it can be dangerous if left untreated. In some cases it may even be fatal, which leads us to our final struggle…
- Suicidal Ideation – As stated before, suicide is now the second leading cause of death for teens in the United States, second only to automobile accidents. This is a full ranking above what it was just ten years ago, as the number of suicides increases in every state. In Utah it is the biggest contributing factor to death among teens, with the state being the one with the highest rates in the nations. If we consider that fact then it isn’t hard to imagine that a large number of teen boys are at least considering suicide during the course of their high school career. It is crucial that we look for signs of depression, dropping grades, drug abuse and other potential contributors to help put a stop to this terrifying statistic. If you learn that your teen is suffering from suicidal ideation it is important that you get them help right away.
Find out more about this and other issues at Help Your Teen Now.