PART OF THE “BREAKING THE CODE OF SILENCE” SERIES
The funeral of Toronto teenager, Caylen Millben took place this morning. He was the third teenager at the Sandalwood Heights secondary school to take his own life since November. The Peel District school board have taken the unusual step (with his family’s permission) of publicly acknowledging the suicide.
Canadian Youth and suicide – an uncomfortable truth
According to parentcentral.ca, “suicide accounts for 24% of all deaths of 15-24 year olds in Canada…” Did you know it’s “the second leading cause of death, after car accidents, for Canadians between the ages of 10 and 24.” That’s nearly a quarter! A shocking statistic for one of the world’s richest nations, where parents think nothing of spending hundreds of dollars on their children’s extra-curricular activities in their desire to give their kids the best start in life.
The real number may be under-reported. A death is only certified as a suicide by medical and legal authorities when the victim’s intent is clearly proven.
What is going so horribly wrong? And how can we prevent it?
Impending adulthood brings with it pressure to achieve in school, at home and in social groups. Hectic lifestyles mean less time to share and discuss how we feel, leading to fragmentation and isolation within families. The subject of suicide is cloaked in silence. It’s associations with shame and guilt make it an uncomfortable topic, yet communication is the best tool we have to stop it.
The Canadian Mental Health Association states that there are a number of myths surrounding teen suicide that can get in the way of people acting in a positive and supportive way:
MYTH:Teens rarely think about suicide.
REALITY: Studies show that many teenagers will know of someone who attempted or died by suicide, any many will have had suicidal thoughts themselves. Some will have formed plans and a few will have attempted it.
MYTH: Talking about suicide will give teenagers the idea to consider it as a possible solution to their problems.
REALITY: Talking calmly, openly and non judgmentally about suicide can bring relief to someone who feels isolated. Willingness to listen with an open mind shows genuine concern, and encouraging someone to speak about their suicidal feelings lessens the chances of them attempting it.
MYTH: Suicide is sudden and unpredictable.
REALITY: Suicide is usually a process; most people will give some, or even many, indications of their intentions.
MYTH: Suicidal youth are just trying to get attention or using the threat of suicide to get their own way.
REALITY: If someone is doing this then there are already problems/issues they need help to deal with. It’s hard to decide with any degree of certainty is someone is at risk of suicide; therefore any threats must be taken seriously.
MYTH: Suicidal people are determined to die.
REALITY: Anyone contemplating suicide is in a lot of pain and turmoil. They don’t necessarily want to die, but can’t see any other way to stop the pain. When you’ve been pushed to the limits of your ability to cope, suicide can seem the only option.
MYTH: A suicidal person will always be at risk.
REALITY: Most people have been suicidal at some point in their life. This can be relieved by the stress of whatever is causing it passing. Learning coping techniques to deal with stressful situations can help prevent a recurrence.
Suicide is about isolation. For friends and family, the fear of upsetting someone can often cause them to withdraw from the troubled person, increasing their risk.
Read the info, dispel the myths, don’t be afraid to help someone.
Linking up with the Love All Blogs Mental Health Blog Hop.