Normally when we think of the Center for Disease Control (CDC), we think of the Zika Virus, Ebola, and other biological threats emanating from far flung places in Africa or the jungles of South America. However, there is a home grown threat that seems to increase in today’s fast paced, high pressure world of young adults and teenagers.
“I am 15 years old and I just organized a memorial,” said Isabelle Blanchard for an article in the Atlantic Magazine. She is one of the many adolescents in Palo Alto, CA dealing with such a tragic lost in their community. The suicide rate in the Silicon Valley city is five times the national average, as a result the CDC has taken it upon itself to investigate and attempt to determine the cause of the spike. The CDC also conducted a similar research in Fairfax, VA. The results found several risk factors including high expectations, societal pressures from peers and parents, and denial of mental health issues and concern from parents. Both cities involved in the research have median incomes that are much higher than the national average. According to “The Problem With Rich Kids,” published by Psychology Today, psychologist Suniya Luthar says that emotional and behavioral issues occur in both wealthy and lower end of the economic spectrum. Children of well of families are faced with constant and extreme pressures to succeed both in their social and academic lives. The constant threat of failure and not living up to these extremely high standards cause crippling anxiety and depression. But some students such as Martha Cabot, have taken a stand and have urged parents to change their attitudes to alleviate and help relieve the crushing pressures from their overtaxing environment.
When a young person commits suicide, the parents are always faced with the question of “what did I do wrong,” or “what could I have done to prevent this.” There is a tremendous feeling of hopelessness and guilt that lingers after such tragic incidents. Jody Allard wrote an article for The Washington Post chronicling her experiences coping with her suicidal teen. She provides in detail the emotions that she experiences in situations where others may not be so concerned. In one instance, she talks about the horror that goes through her head whenever she calls down to his bedroom and does not get a response. It is difficult for her to maintain a normal life because the thoughts and images lingers in her head and crushes her little by little daily. During her visits to the psychiatrist, she is told that she is a good mother. She has made mistakes, but every mother does. The psychiatrist tells her that she must punish her son when necessary, perhaps to provide a sense of normalcy for her, as well as her son.
It is difficult enough for parents to deal with a suicidal child, but imagine the parents of LGBT children. LGBT youths are eight times more likely to attempt suicide according to an article written by Chloe Hollett for the Huffington Post. She is a transgendered advocate fighting for LGBT equality. It takes unconditional love and a strong devotion to one’s children in order to stave off suicide according to her article. It is even more challenging when the statistics are against you. Hollett’s mother can attest to this as she credits her mother for her success and for her being alive today. Growing up in a conservative middle class town is no easy task for someone who faced gender identity issues as a young teenager. Hollett’s despair climaxed when she tried to hang herself from a rope tied around a beam in her family’s garage. But it was the thought of her mother’s agony that prevented her from going through with it. Chloe Hollet’s partner said that it was basically a parent’s love that dramatically impacted her at that moment and prevented her from taking her own life.
Everyone will face difficult challenges during the adolescent phase of life. It may seem like the end of the world for such a young mind. Everyone will handle it differently based on life experiences and societal upbringings. There is no manual or standards of procedure to tackle life’s challenges. But there are many programs and avenues to receive help. Doctors, psychiatrist, friends and family are great resources. Suicide is not an option, it is a tragic end that will have devastating and lasting effects on friends, love ones, and family.