Archive for August, 2017

Forty Years Of Teen Suicides

We lose more of our teen girls every day

For every natural death, there are many that could have been prevented with proper professional intervention and medical treatment. Across the country, youths entering adolescence barely have time to cross into this crucial developmental period without encountering obstacles. Bullying at school. Troubles at home. Early onset of mental illness – or misdiagnosis that leads to treatment for a condition that doesn’t exist. Unfortunately, many of our teens slip through the cracks when it comes to mental healthcare. Conditions at school, and in healthcare facilities consistently fail to prevent suicides.

As a consequence, the suicide rate for teens has skyrocketed. This is a problem that not many know how to address, but suicide lawyer Skip Simpson knows it needs to be addressed. Our youth are dying; action must be taken.

“I tried to kill myself three times”

The powerful words of a West Philadelphia teenager sadly aren’t unfamiliar to many in her age group. Teens, especially girls, attempt suicide at an alarming rate. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention found in a recent study that the rate of suicide among teen girls reached a forty-year high as of 2015. Between 2007 and 2015, teen boys and young men saw a 30% increase in suicide rates as well. Many survivors’ narratives relate back to bullying, and begin with self-harm as the start of a deadly journey to try and cope with life’s events.

Cutting, burning, skin picking, hitting and starvation are common forms of self-harm. They are meant to alleviate the pressure of being unwell, or unable to cope with events inwardly. Self-inflicted pain is a grounding practice for many teens who otherwise feel “numb” or overwhelmed. Identifying and addressing these habits is critical to saving a life, but many go overlooked by school psychologists and healthcare providers. A cry for help is often dismissed (especially in the case of women) as a cry for attention.Teen Suicide Rates

Often, the response is too late.

Dying younger, faster

An increase in admissions to hospitals due to suicidal thoughts or self-harm has cut a path across the nation. At thirty-two children’s hospitals between 2008 and 2015, numbers went up and the number of healthy and happy youth went down. The associated study (covering children between the ages of 5 and 17) showed that the largest increases were with teenage girls. Our nation’s hospital beds were overflowing with children who dreamed of ending a life that had barely begun. What was being done to prevent this?

One case of a fourteen-year-old girl rocked the state of Texas. Overwhelmed by bullies, Brandy Vela shot herself in front of her family. Shockingly, the harassment only continued after her death with horrific comments on a memorial social media page that her family had to deal with.

In Ohio, an 11-year-old girl who had survived brain cancer died by suicide in her family home after enduring relentless teasing and taunts.

Bullying is especially prevalent among LGBT youth, who have already statistically experienced more violence than the average teen. According to the CDC, out of LGB youth surveyed:

  • 10% were threatened with a weapon at school
  • 34% were bullied
  • 28% had experienced cyberbullying
  • 23% had experienced sexual dating violence in the prior year
  • 18% had experienced physical dating violence
  • 18% had experienced non-consensual intimate relations during their lives

Transgender youth, as cited in a study by the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, experience a devastating rate of suicide attempts and self-injury. Thirty percent reported a history including at least one attempt. Girls in the LGBT community are often marginalized by society, peers and family. As a result of marginalization and lack of intervention, we lose them.

The Substance of Suicide

Teens are no stranger to the national opioid crisis, and a common method of suicide involved overdose. Teen drug overdose deaths rose from 3.1 deaths per 100,000 teens in 2014 to 3.7 per 100,000 in 2015. A 19% increase in just the span of a year is not just a problem, but an epidemic. Many teens use drugs to self-medicate, or overdose on ones that they have been prescribed. Some have been prescribed drugs that have come with black box warnings from the FDA.

Intervening sooner rather than later

Completing a suicide involves a series of steps. Which one is being missed? School counselors may miss signs of self-harm, therapists may quickly dismiss ideations as idle thoughts and attempts gain attention instead of indicators of a serious problem. Being admitted to hospital inpatient units is no guarantee that the healing process will take place. After all, improper suicide watch is a prevalent problem in hospitals. Every year, approximately 1800 patients are dying in these facilities because patients are not being carefully watched. Suicidal patients are consistently placed on observation levels which give the patient plenty of time to hang themselves.

Where do we turn for help?

Every day we are given opportunities to show kindness to people around us. Our friends and family members need a word of encouragement or just a smile will help—instead of scowls. One powerful antidote to suicide is hope—hope that someone cares for and loves us.

Suicide lawyer Skip Simpson has dedicated his career to identifying and holding responsible parties that do not adequately provide proper healthcare in these crucial times. Our teens are a thriving generation who should live their lives fully. If you or someone you know has experienced a loss due to suicide that could have been prevented, contact us.