Depression Common Symptom in Teen Suicides
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|April 18, 2012|
School officials in north east Louisiana are still trying to figure out how to stop teen suicides.
Six students in the Ouachita Parish School district have taken their own lives over the past two school years. Administrators and students are focusing on depression as a key cause.
Fifteen year old Alex Albritton attends West Monroe High School. She’s only too familiar with the terrible loss of young lives. Albritton says that so-called ‘teenage moodiness’ is sometimes not given enough attention.
“I think adults don’t take our sadness seriously. They say that we’re just teenagers and they just kind of look over it and just say that it’s because of our age.”
School Administrators on the Lookout for Signs of Depression
Ouachita Parish School psychologist, Flint Smith, agrees with Albritton. He says that the emotional states of teenagers are often difficult to decode.
“What we see most commonly is depression. And the problem with depression in teenagers is they mask it very good. We see suicide occurring about two times higher in males than in females. Females attempt suicide more, males complete it more. Both males and females – teenagers especially – mask their depression better than adults. Those are the commonalities: hopelessness and depression.”
A teenager’s lack of life experience can take on emotional weight. Eleventh-grader, Connor Smith, says a teen life sometimes amounts to a burden.
“I think adults look over some of the struggles that we deal with in our age group such as peer pressure, grades. They seem like small subjects, especially to older adults that haven’t been in school for years. And I think maybe they have forgotten a bit about the gravity of it: just how depressed you can become from the small things. Because they build up.”
A depressed teen mindset is familiar to some adults. Loyal Miller survived a suicide attempt nearly twenty years ago, when he was a teenager. He says life’s difficulties seemed too much to bear.
“There was just so much pain and anguish and I just couldn’t escape it. And it just got worse and worse and the despondency just kept on getting worse and whenever I lost my family, I lost touch with reality.”
Teenagers Refuse to Give in to Rash of Suicides
But some teenagers are able to take a look past their high school years. Sixteen-year-old Hamilton Winters is a junior at West Monroe High School. He’s looking forward to a bright future.
“As a teenager, I don’t think you can appreciate what life has to give you. I think that teenagers nowadays think that the high school years are the best it is going to get, and if it’s not good then it’s not going to get better. Each person’s different in the way that they approach things. Some people might be a bit more hostile to themselves than other people. The recent outbreak – I don’t know of a person that hasn’t been touched by it, especially in this parish.”
Ouachita School psychologist, Flint Smith says it is critical to be on the lookout for suicidal behavior.
“When we look at suicide, we don’t need to look at ‘this person’s selfish, they want to die.’ The research from all the national health think tanks say this: that they’re not running to death, they’re running away from pain.
But what can local school administrators take from this observation?
“What we know is that if you can intervene quickly during that time, people are not suicidal 24 hours a day. But they are for periods of time and that’s a very dangerous situation.”
The school system has taken steps to prevent further tragedies. The district has held an anti-suicide rally and teachers are now being trained to watch for signs of suicidal tendencies in students.
Air Date: Wed, 04/18/2012