Is suicide a taboo subject?
In a 2007 survey by the Centers for Disease Control, 16% of high school students had seriously considered suicide during the months before the survey. The medical journal Pediatrics reported that the third leading cause of death among 10-to-14 year olds is suicide, after accidents and homicides. At the college level, over 1,000 students each year choose to end their lives.
Like the “sex talk” with your parents, many kids and adults avoid talking about suicide. Media coverage of a suicide is faced with balancing a serious discussion of the event and paying homage to the victim that may inadvertently encourage others to do the same. “End of life” issues at school are rarely out in the open and are more often discouraged or ignored.
Some states have addressed the issue by requiring suicide prevention programs in schools. California, New Jersey and Tennessee, for example, work with prepared curriculum materials in training educators to properly cover the subject with students.
Bryce Mackie was in high school when he produced a documentary called “Eternal High” about his struggle with depression and thoughts of suicide. He is now a college student in Chicago and speaks to young people across the country about his experience. He hopes to destigmatize the subject and encourage teens to talk openly about their feelings.
In what is referred to as a suicide cluster, Henry M. Gunn High School in California, had four students commit suicide between May and October, 2009. Two boys and two girls between 13 and 17-years-old all walked onto railroad tracks in front of fast-moving trains. The school and community is struggling to cope with these losses.
Suicide is a serious problem in Japan. In 2008, nearly 2,000 people jumped in front of a train to end their lives. The railway company has installed blue LED lights in all stations in Tokyo in hopes that they’ll have a soothing effect and reduce suicides.
For immediate help with depression and suicidal thoughts, call:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 [free and confidential].