Teen Suicide Rate at an All-Time High in California
Anyone who has been through the teenage years knows that they are not easy. Being a teenager comes with its own set of stressors, pressures, and upsets, all of which can lead to more severe problems. While the majority of teenagers find their way through these difficult years and come out the other side mostly unscathed, others simply do not make it through. Throughout the state of California, suicide is the second leading cause of death amongst teenagers. This is a number that has increased dramatically since the beginning of the century.
According to research, rates of suicide in both California and throughout the United States began declining in the late 1980s and early 1990s. However, from the year 2000 on, rates began increasing, and, now, suicide is an ever-present issue amongst this age group.
In response to the increasing prevalence of suicide amongst California teens, actions are being taken in an effort to decrease these numbers and work to safeguard the health and wellbeing of teenagers throughout the area.
What is Being Done?
Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell of Long Beach, California has put forth a bill that requires school districts to utilize suicide prevention policies that help out high-risk teens, such as those in the LGBTQ community. Additionally, Abbe Land, Executive Director of the Trevor Project, a non-profit foundation geared towards LGBTQ youth, has worked to encourage teachers and school districts to become educated on warning signs of teen suicide, as well as know what to do to help apply effective interventions. However, these two motions are simply not enough to decrease the number of teen suicides in the state, meaning even more needs to be done.
After a string of suicides occurred within a Palo Alto high school, Superintendent Glenn McGee implemented a number of policies to help keep students at the school from suffering similar fates as those who had taken their own lives. These policies include reducing homework-load to 15 hours per week, starting school one hour later than before, and encouraging students to obtain more sleep to promote their wellbeing. Additionally, the school opened wellness centers to help students obtain skills to assist their friends in need.
Schools play a significant role in helping to decrease the prevalence of teenage suicide. Unfortunately in many instances, it costs a lot of money to do so. However, other schools are starting to adopt similar practices to help decrease the costs of student support while still helping the student population.
What Risks are Teenagers Facing Today?
Suicide is one of the most concerning issues that teenagers are currently faced with. For many teens, suicide can seem like an option when the following occurs:
- Abuse or mistreatment
- Relationship loss
- Psychological and mental disorders
- Feelings of isolation
- Feelings of hopelessness
Groups of teenagers, such as those who are transgender or who are homosexual, are more likely to be treated differently by their peers because of their sexual and/or gender orientation. Other teens, like those who suffer from mental illness or educational challenges, can also experience similar feelings of isolation or not fitting in, triggering the onset of feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and eventually suicidal tendencies, should these feelings progress.
It is also imperative to understand that teen suicide is not always triggered by the events that happen within the four walls of their high schools, but rather what occurs behind closed doors at home. Teenagers who have parents who grapple with substance abuse or mental health conditions are not only likely to partake in similar behaviors, but may also suffer emotionally (and possibly physically) as a result, leading to feelings of wanting to find an “easy way out” to numb the pain that is occurring at home.
In many instances, teenagers who are at-risk for attempting suicide are struggling with issues both at home and at school, which is why it is critical for teachers and loved ones to be made aware of the many signs and symptoms of suicidal ideation within teenagers. At San Jose Behavioral Health, we are not only able to help provide this type of education to the community and those who have loved ones grappling with suicidal thoughts and behaviors, but we are also able to care for those teenagers who are feeling like their only option is suicide. Allow us to help you or a loved one overcome the many challenges that stand between you and a happy, healthy life, free of the threat of suicide.