Table of Contents
Suicidal behaviour among young individuals has increased tremendously over the past may years. Suicide is listed third in the leading cause of death; the first two causes are homicide and unintentional injury (Kalafat, 2001, p. 22). In the United States, a child commits suicide every four hours. According to a report by Public Health Service (1990), more young adults died from committing suicide than all the medical conditions combine. The leading causes of the suicidal behaviours are considered to be depression among the young people within the cohort of youths. Media has also influenced the issue negatively especially when the media is explicit on reporting the method used to commit the gruesome act prominently (Hawton, 2002). It gets even worse among the young individuals who have access to the internet.
The rate of suicidal behaviours among youths varies based on the ethnic groups (Goldston, 2008). This patterns of suicide have been attributed to cross-cutting matters such as acculturative stress and protective matters within ways of life; there is also the issue of religion and spirituality. Of the largest ethnic groups in the United States, the Caucasians lead on the rates of suicide, and it is trailed closely with African American youth and lastly the Latino Americans (David B. Goldston, 2008). Along the years, however, the rate of suicide cases among the African Americans tripled up. At the global level, the highest suicide rates are among Native Americans and the lowest rates among the Asians and Pacific Islanders (Miller, 2009). Many theories have been developed with regards to this high rates of suicidal behaviors in the Native American youths some of which are based on the abuse of alcohol and lack of social inclusion. Gender is also another issue rather than ethnicity and race. Research indicates that males commit more suicide as compared to their female counterparts, the justification of the higher rates of suicides among males than females include access to firearms, the use of alcohol and other drugs and the avoidance to seek attention when faced with psychological issues such as the death of someone close or ending of a romantic relationship.
Available statistics indicates that the majority of the victims of suicide are of the college going age 16-24 years. A survey conducted by the Youth Risk Behavioural Surveillance System (YRBS), indicated that the leading causes of these premature deaths include instability and social problems among the young generation in the United States. The rates of youth suicide, however, show a contradictory trend concerning the individual’s social, economic status. However, a survey carried out by two-thousand Danish youth showed that the youths from the lower income status were five times more likely to commits suicide.
Geographically, the suicide rates are more common in areas that are sparsely populated as compared to the areas with high population density. This is brought about by greater physical and social isolation which leads to social disconnection an element that has been linked with suicide (Miller, 2009, p. 155). This theory attempts to explain the prevalence of suicide cases in the rural areas that are sparsely populated that in the urban centres with high population density. It also explains why the suicide rates are highest in Alaska and Western states and lowest in the North-eastern states.
The implications of youth suicide are far reaching. The school has an obligation to take appropriate actions towards the prevention of youth suicide. The school psychologist needs to play their role and work towards the promotion of good mental health among the students paying more emphasis on the area of prevention. Given the long period spent in school, the educational facilities are the ideal place to concentrate preventive efforts (Miller, 2009). The school also needs to get better ways to address poor academic performance as studies indicate that a majority of the youths who commit suicide are often poor academic performers, the deficiency in the academic achievement is what then mount pressure on the youth which leads to their attempt to commit suicide.
The government through the health department have formulated policies that are intended to help in controlling the rate of youth suicide in the country. The suicide policies have been in place since 1999 after Surgeon General David Satcher spilled the beans on the issue of youth suicide ( U.S. Surgeon General and of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, 2012). The document that was referred to as ‘The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Prevent Suicide’ the document was published in 1999 and served as a blueprint for the prevention of suicide. It steered the birth of the National strategy of Suicide Prevention (National Strategy).
The strategies in place include thirteen goals and sixty objectives that have been reviewed from time to time to show the progress in the prevention of suicide (U.S. Surgeon General and of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, 2012). The approach took four strategic directions. The first direction moved towards the promotion of good health among the individuals, families and the community at large (U.S. Surgeon General and of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, 2012). This approach aimed at reducing preconception about mental disabilities and suicide in that an individual can share with other individuals his symptoms and seek assistance. This approach also initiates a properly executed awareness campaign to raise understanding of signs and symptoms of mental disorders and the risks of suicide. The campaigns also direct individuals to areas of help locally. In this strategy, the community service providers are educated on how to handle individuals with symptoms that might lead to suicide. This strategy among many others works towards the reduction of the cases of suicide at the grassroots levels.
The second strategy is based on the community and clinical preventive services. The factors that lead to suicide-related deaths are many and vary from one individual to another. the death of a loved one or failure in academics could push a person to the margins of suicide though for a short-lived period, on the other hand, factors such as substance use disorder could lead to a prolonged attempt to take one’s life. The prevention of suicide requires support services and systems to be used in the promotion of the wellness and assistance of individuals to navigate these challenges fruitfully this has therefore called for both clinical and community-based efforts to help in the control and reduction of the cases of suicide in the various communities.
The third approach is on treatment and support services. Persons at high risk for suicide requires medical evaluation and care to detect and address the medical conditions that can lead to death (U.S. Surgeon General and of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, 2012). Initially, it was believed that the appropriate treatment of psychological disorders and substance abuse could reduce the risk of suicide, however, research indicates that suicide prevention is enhanced when specific treatment are fused with strategies that directly address suicide risk. This strategy advocates for curative approaches in handling the cases of suicide.
The last strategy deals with the surveillance, research, and evaluation. This strategy suggests evaluation activities that are linked to the prevention of suicide. Public health surveillance includes the ongoing processes of collecting, analysis and interpretation of public health data to reduce indisposition. This has significantly helped in the reduction of suicide related deaths.
The current effort to curb the issue includes, the setting up of active guidance and counselling facilities in educational institutions up to the university level. This facility will promote mental health among the students to prevent cases of suicide within the learning environment. The government is also making efforts to train the relevant staff to recognize students who are exhibiting symptoms that suggest suicide. Suicide prevention competencies have also been integrated into the relevant curricular and have aided significantly in the battle on the prevention of suicide.
At the community level, the government and the community are encouraged to bring teens for screening in the community based mental facility. The main aim of this program is early identification and connecting the youth with the local mental facilities where they can obtain psych evaluation. These screening mostly aim at detecting cases of depression and other emotional disorders before things worsen and push them to the margins of suicide.
The other effort is the ‘stop a suicide today.’ This program was developed by Harvard psychiatrist Douglas Jacobs and enlightens the public how to detect signs of suicide among the family members, friends, classmates and empowers individuals to make a difference in the other people’s lives who might be inclined to attempt suicide. The program is based on the theory that key to reducing suicide lies in mental treatment of the potential victims
Lastly, the federal governments have established a National Suicide Prevention Lifeline with the mission of provision of immediate assistance to people in suicidal crisis by connecting them to the nearest suicide prevention and a mental health facility. The number is toll-free and operates twenty-fours a day seven days a week. It is fully funded by the federal government.
There are many things that parents, teachers and other caregivers can do to prevent youth suicides. First, the parent needs to develop a good relationship with the youth. The good relationship will help the youth open up to their parents about various matters that could be affecting them, this way the parents can be able to offer guidance and counselling services to the youths. These services will help in reducing the rates of suicide deaths daily. A good relationship with the parents also promotes high self-esteem among the young individual and therefore avoiding activities and events that might harm them. Parents also need to create an environment that allows the child to express their emotions appropriately to avoid outbursts and emotional breakdowns.
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Secondly, early intervention approaches need to be taken whenever one is going through stressful situations. If the adult notices the child is exhibiting emotional symptoms especially when facing significant life events such as appearance in court, family break-up, an important academic test, or an individual who has been abused both physically and sexually. The adults as well as other people around this kind of individual need to talk to them to prevent despair and suicidal ideation. The individual need to be empathetic and very sensitive to the matters to avoid adding more pain to the youths that would rather accelerate the attempt to commit suicide.
Suicide threats also need to be taken seriously, whether sincere or insincere. The threats should not be played around with, as it could lead to an actual death of the individual. Early detection of mental illnesses that carry stigmas and myths in the society. The most prevalent mental disorders include schizophrenia, anorexia nervosa bipolar disorder most of which are common in the onset of adolescence. Psychosis is another important condition at this stage of life, and it carries with it a high chance of suicide. The health professionals, as well as parents and guardians, should be on the lookout for signs and symptoms that suggest mental conditions.
Seeking professional assistance. Guardians often find it hard to accept that their teenagers are emotionally troubled leave alone attempted suicide. This, therefore, calls for the need of professional assistance not only for the youth but also for the family of the youth. These professionals include clinical psychologists, general medical practitioners, social service workers and component counsellors. Any potential material that could be used to cause harm to ones-self is removed from the surrounding with youths who are stressed or depressed. Parents and other caregivers should be extra vigilant about behavioural change among the youths. Signs of depression, agitation, anxiety, and other psychological conditions must be addressed to prevent suicide attempts.
In the case of a failed suicide attempts, proper evaluation of the situation needs to be carried out by professionals. The youth should be counselled to establish the main motive behind this attempt and appropriate ways to handle it be taken.
In conclusion, youth suicides are still on the rise. Appropriate approaches to tackling the issue, therefore, need to be adopted to help reduce the prevalence of such events that would lead to the death of the younger individuals. Good counselling services need to be offered to the youth. The elderly also need to listen to the youth problems and advise them appropriately.
- U.S. Surgeon General and of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention. (2012). 2012 National Strategy for Suicide Prevention: GOALS AND OBJECTIVES FOR ACTION . Washington DC: HHS.
- American Psychological Asociation. (2014 ). Teen Suicide is Preventable. Retrieved from American Psychological Association : http://www.apa.org/research/action/suicide.aspx
- David B. Goldston, S. D. (2008). Cultural Considerations in Adolescent Suicide Prevention and Psychosocial Treatment. American Psychologist , 14-31.
- Kalafat, P. J. (2001). Suicide prevention and youth: recommendations for public policy. International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, 21(3), 22-37. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/01443330110789330
- Keith Hawton, K. W. (2002). Influences of the media on suicide. BJM, 1374-1375.
- MIller, D. N. (2009). Youth Suicidal Behavior: An introduction and overview. Psychology School Review, 153-167.
- Miller, A. L., & Glinski, J. (2000). Youth suicidal behavior: Assessment and intervention. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 56(9), 1131-1152.