- Death & Loss of Life
Lack of Awareness in Teen Suicides
I read an obituary some time ago in the “Sun News” that recalled the life of a young man. This young man had a bright future waiting for him. Ryan Acosta was no ordinary 19 year old. He excelled in sports as well as academics. Every student at his high school knew him by name. He would help anyone who came knocking at his door. The whole community loved him. When his death was announced, it was a huge shocker to the community. Ryan Acosta had committed suicide. This type of situation has occurred all across the country. Teen suicides have risen to an all time high. 9% of high school students have attempted to commit suicide. 46% of teens personally know someone who has tried committing suicide (Blizzard). Polls may have been conducted about teen suicides but it does not change anything. There is a lack of awareness in society about the growing problem in teen suicides.
The lack of information is keeping society away from the dark secrets of teen suicides. Ryan Acosta was not the only teenager that committed suicide that year. Justin Parker, a journalist for the Pueblo Chieftain, wrote about Pueblo County, located in New Mexico, had a high attempted suicide rate amoung teenagers. It is nearly double of the national rate of 9%. According to Parker, suicide is the third leading cause of death among teenagers. He also states that 90% of the suicide victims suffer from a mental illness. In 2006, Pueblo had to witness the deaths of 2 teenagers. Pueblo is not the only county in New Mexico that has seen the rate of suicide increase. Oliver Uyttebrouck, a journalist from Tribunal Regional News, states that In April 2010, four teenagers committed suicide. All four teenagers belonged to a Navajo Community in New Mexico. The article also states that a similar event occurred in Ruidoso were five Mescalero Apaches committed suicide in a five month span. The suicide victims were between the ages of 14-25. All the suicides that have occurred in the past few years is higher than the national rate.
From 2008 to 2010, there have been 15-24 suicides among Native Americans in the reservations in New Mexico. The suicide rate is three times higher then the national rate. There are about 30 per 100,000 who commit suicide (Staff). The suicides occurred near McKinley County. April to March of 2010, 5 suicides had occurred. The victims ranged from 13 to 16. The string of suicides has become a problem among teenagers in the Navajo community of Thoreau, New Mexico. The suicide problem is knocking at the front door. The issue is present locally. New Mexico is not the only state that suffers from suicide problems. Every state has suicide issues present. Some states have higher suicide rates then others. Wyoming has a suicide occur every three days (Nichols).
Society has failed in keeping themselves informed about the ongoing issue of teen suicides. Not only is the issue present in the United States, it is present all over the world. In South India, the average suicide rate for young women between the ages of 15 to 19 was 148 per 100,000 (Bhattacharya). Japan also has its fair share of teen suicides. Back in 2004, nine teenagers between the ages of 17-19 committed suicide together. One of the teens sent an email through his phone to a friend letting him know that he was going to commit suicide and where to find his body (Caruso). The issue with teen suicides is a problem the world shares. The countries that have data available about the deaths in their country have seen a rise in teen suicides. The issue is not a local issue but an international problem.
The lack of awareness in teen suicides is not just a local problem, teen suicides are occurring in almost every corner in the world. According to Bhattacharya, a journalist for New Scientist, World Health Organization conducted a research on teen suicides. In their research, South India has the highest suicide rate but keep in mind that the rate does not include the males. In Tamil Nadu, suicide is the number one leading cause of death (Bhattacharya). Females have a higher suicide rate than males in South India. Communities across the United States thought that the suicide problem was only a local issue but in fact the issue is worldwide.
The lack of awareness in teen suicides has brought misconception on what is causing the problem. When people hear the word suicide the first thing that pops into their head is “were they bullied?”. There are a lot of factors that contribute to teen suicides. In South India the contributing factors in the teen suicides include family conflicts, domestic violence, academic failures, unfulfilled romantic ideals and mental illness (Bhattacharya). In Vellore, the community health worker in each village would go and find out what happened in the victims life. They found that the teenagers had a variety of problems that contributed to their demise. The data that was collected by the team in Vellore was from a population of 108,000 people from 1992 to 2000 (Bhattacharya). The contributing factors that lead to suicide maybe similar in other countries.
Societies over look the common factors that contribute to teen suicide. Teen suicide is not just bullying. Many teens suffer from mental illnesses and depression that goes undiagnosed (Agerbo). Alongside depression and mental illness you have the media. The media portrays unrealistic body images of women that can affect young adults to pre-teens according to Eilene Zimmerman who is a writer for the magazine Psychology Today. Zimmerman argues that the cause of the high suicide rates may be because of the unrealistic pressures from the media and society. Girls are still being pressured to be the care giver but are now being pressured to excel in academics and athletics. They are pressured to do all of that while still being thin and “sexy”. The young girls are not the only ones affected by the media. Males go through similar expectations. Both genders also expect their counterpart to be meeting unrealistic goals the media has set. In the past year suicide rates for girls ages 10 to 14 has increased by 76% the past few years. The ages 15 to 18 went up more than 30%, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The media also affects the lack of awareness that is present in society. According to Kellee Nolan, a journalist for Bulletin Wire , state that the show 60 minutes was stopped from showing a story about four teenagers from Geelong High School who committed suicide. The suicides all occurred in a 6 month time span. The group BeyondBlue were the ones who protested and stoped 60 minutes from airing the story. The group was concerned that the segmanet may cause other teenagers to commit suicide. They strongly believed that the story would bring may provide an acceptence of death. With groups like BeyondBlue, society will not discover the growing problem in teen suicides. The producers of the show still had the choice to air the episode but they decided not to because of the protest that BeyondBlue had done. The local newspaper, Sun News, also decided not to place an article about Ryan Acosta who committed suicide back in 2009. With information being kept from the public, how will society be educated on teen suicides. The media is adding to the lack of awareness that is present in society. The media believe that keeping such information will prevent other teens from commiting suicide and keep the suicide rate low. The information that is kept from public view is only hurting society.
The longer society ignores the problem on teen suicides the harder it will become to help those who have the thoughts to commit suicide. Suicide is affecting the whole world, not just the local area. With media not providing the information and their unrealistic views on body image, does not make the problem any easier. We need to keep in mind that suicide is happening in all ethnicities and genders. It is not present in just one gender or one ethnicity. The more we educate ourselves on teen suicides and the warning signs, we will have the ability to lower the suicide rate. The suicide rate will not just be lowered local but nationally if society were to educate themselves on teen suicides, even in suicides in general. Though, at this moment, society has failed in keeping themselves informed about the growing epidemic on teen suicides.
Blizzard, Rick. "Teens Acutely Aware of Suicide Problem." Editorial. Gallup Poll 2003: 0-4. 2003. Web.
Nolan, Kellee. "60 Minutes Won't Show Suicide Story." Bulletin Wire (2009). Web.
Parker, Justin. "Local teen-suicide attempts twice the national rate." Pueblo Chieftain (2007).
Uyttebrouck, Olivier. "Navajo Town Reels Over Teen Suicides: Community at a Loss To Make Sense of Tragedies ." Tribune Regional News (2010).
Zimmerman, Eilene. "Teen Angst Turns Deadly." Psychology Today (2009): 30.
Agerbo, Esben. "Familial, Psychiatric, and Socioeconomic Risk Factors for Suicide in Young People: Nested Case-control Study." NCBI. 29 Jan. 2002. Web. 03 Dec. 2011.
Nichols, Jake. "Planet News Article, Jackson Hole Wy | Suicide Rates Too High | 12/7/2011." Planet Jackson Hole - News by Planet Jackson Hole. 07 Dec. 2011. Web. 7 Dec. 2011.
Staff, Journal. "ABQjournal.com: Albuquerque Journal Login Page." ABQJournal Online. 19 Nov. 2011. Web. 22 Nov. 2011.
Landry, Alysa. "Teen Suicides Spike in New Mexico | Thoreau, N.M. | KRQE News 13." KRQE News 13 Breaking News, Local News and Weather - Albuquerque, New Mexico. 28 May 2010. Web. 08 Nov. 2011.
Caruso, Kevin. "Nine Dead in 'Internet Suicide' in Japan - Suicide.org!" Suicide.org: Suicide Prevention, Suicide Awareness, Suicide Support - Suicide.org! 12 Oct. 2004. Web. 08 Nov. 2011.
Shaoni, Bhattacharya. "Indian Teens Have World's Highest Suicide Rate - 02 April 2004 – New Scientist." Science News and Science Jobs from New Scientist - New Scientist. 02 Apr. 2004. Web. 08 Nov. 2011.
© 2011 JosieLee