Myths About Adolescent Suicide
All of these myths (and more) have been uttered about adolescent suicide. How may of them have you heard? Can you add any others to the list? Do you believe any of them?
MYTH: Talking about suicide to adolescents increases suicide risk.
FACT: When suicide education is taught in a sensitive, appropriate context, it does not lead to or cause suicide attempts or deaths. In fact, educating students about suicide is particularly important, as research shows that young people who are thinking about suicide are more likely to tell a peer than to tell an adult. Thus, peer assistance programs are an important component of adolescent suicide prevention.
MYTH: Adolescents from wealthy or educated families do not commit suicide. Paradoxically, another myth that exists is: Adolescents who commit suicide are mostly from upper-class and educated families.
FACT: Suicide knows no socioeconomic boundaries. All people, from all walks of life, are at risk.
MYTH: Adolescents use the word suicide only to attract attention. Those who talk about suicide never actually attempt suicide.
FACT: Talking about suicide is one of the most ominous warning signs and should be treated seriously. Adolescents who make threats of suicide should be provided help; nine out of ten adolescents who commit suicide give clues (verbal warning or other warning signs) before their suicide attempt.
MYTH: All adolescents exhibit symptoms of depression, anxiety, and angst. Therefore, it is impossible to determine which ones are at the greatest risk for suicide.
FACT: Although many adolescents experience sadness, stress, or anxiety, about one in five exhibits symptoms of clinical depression. Depression is a serious problem that contributes to suicide risk, and adolescents who are depressed require prompt and appropriate treatment.
MYTH: Every adolescent who commits suicide is depressed.
FACT: The majority of adolescents have thought about suicide at least once in their lives, and although mental illness may be a contributing factor in many suicides, not all adolescents who engage in suicidal behaviors suffer from a mental disorder.
MYTH: Most adolescents who attempt suicide fully intend to die.
FACT: Most suicidal persons do not really want to die; they just want the pain to end. Thus, they find themselves ambivalent: They want to die to take away the psychological pain, and they want to live in a more hopeful environment. Luckily, this ambivalence becomes an effective place to intervene.
© ______ 2007, Merrill, an imprint of Pearson Education Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The reproduction, duplication, or distribution of this material by any means including but not limited to email and blogs is strictly prohibited without the explicit permission of the publisher.
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