Prevention Of The Teen Suicide

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Teen suicide is an increasing phenomenon and is something that is often overlooked. Life is a gift that every human is promised to have, and for some teens, it is taken too soon. In the adolescent years, it becomes very hard for teens to know how to feel and express their feelings. This causes some teens to fall into depression and increases the chance of self-harm. Some students just do not know who to talk to or who to trust. Teen suicides could be prevented or reduced if screenings were mandated before and mid-way through the school year, more requirements were put into place to be certified as a counselor, and more strict penalties for bullies.

The amount of teen suicides in the United States has increased greatly throughout the twenty-first century. Taking into account how many lives have been taken because of suicide is appalling. Suicide was and still is one of the leading causes of death in America. According to Satcher’s article, suicide was the third leading cause of death of young Americans in the United States in 2001. Groups such as The U.S. Center for Disease Control helped prevent suicide by bringing awareness through different programs, but Tribune Content Agency Graphics shows that those programs did not help to decrease the number of teen suicides. For teen suicides are on the rise more than ever, but what if the number of deaths could be reduced by things that have never been implemented before(“Suicide…”)?

In his article, “A Three-Stage Screening Strategy Can Prevent Teen Suicide,” Columbia University psychiatry professor David Shaffer expresses that more lives would be saved, particularly teens and adolescents, if screenings were mandated before and mid-way through the school year. The first stage as described would be to complete a “brief self-report questionnaire” on paper. Once the evaluation is taken and no red flags are raised, the teen would be cleared. If some questions are flagged because of the answer they would then move onto the second stage. This stage consists of the student completing a “computerized diagnostic interview, the DISC (Diagnostic Interview Schedule for Children).” Once taken and the results are not where they should be, the final stage will come into effect which would be a “face-to-face clinical interview.”

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While Shaffer’s stages are effective, certain stages could be reduced and improved such as having everything done electronically, perhaps done in Google Classroom. The power of technology speeds up the process tremendously. Furthermore, students whose answers might be flagged as well as students who did not take the evaluation would move onto stage two; meeting with their school counselor. There is always the possibility that students would lie or just click random answers on the evaluation. To prevent this, the same questions and the same amount of attentiveness would be given to all students from school administration as if they were all in need of help. The only people certified to view your first and second step evaluation would be your parent/guardian and your counselor(s) in and out of school.

According to psychiatry professor David Shaffer, “[he] found that 90% of suicide victims had a diagnosable psychiatric disorder at the time of their death, and more than half of these individuals had experienced significant symptoms for longer than 2 years…” The purpose of this statement within the article is there to draw attention to the number of lives that could have been and could be saved if a method such as the three-stage screening strategy were put into place. Self-evaluations are essential when it comes to determining one's success and happiness. People may never know what other individuals are going through, but having someone reach out to them for help might just be what is needed to save their life. For this reason, school staff should be mandated to reach out to students when any available opportunity is at hand or the acknowledgment of the signs is present. Additionally, how would students know they would be receiving the right help and attention they need?

Receiving the help one needs not just within schools, but outside as well is key when analyzing an individual’s mental health. Knowing that your counselors are good at what they do is very significant when gaining the trust of one another; because of this, more than just the requirements of obtaining a master’s degree and licensing should be put into place to be certified as a counselor. This idea could be a successful outcome on the lives of young teens but could end horribly as well. From prior knowledge, if employers and certification levels were raised, unemployment rates would have little to some decline within the United States because. Some employers offer the job because they need the position filled while some employees only take the job because it is what they need to get by. Their ultimate goal is not to help those in need and that is where the problem partially lies. Secondly, some counselors just do not know how to properly guide teens when they cry out for help, whether it is verbally or not.

Kids and teens are different than they were years ago, counselors need to know the signs and how to communicate with them effectively. In the Netflix series, 13 Reasons Why, they provide every viewer a perfect demonstration of what a counselor is not. Counselors should most certainly have the correct degree to qualify for the position and should know how to appropriately talk to suicidal teens. For most teenagers who are not mentally stable, it takes a lot of them to even try and explain the thoughts that repetitively replay in their minds, better yet to even tell someone they are not in the right state of mind. Certified counselors when speaking with a mentally unstable student, they should somehow get in touch with their parents, even if another school administrator has to. Counselors should always remain calm and ease the young adult’s mind, giving them their undivided attention while slowly working their way to the source of the problem(s). However, what if the reasoning is because of someone else; a bully, or even possibly a peer?

Although preventing bullying would be nearly impossible, creating more strict penalties for bullies would serve great justice for the ones who are willing to take their own life because of one. The Michelle Carter case drew national publicity towards something that has never been done before. Latashia Beachum explains in her news article that Carter—who went to jail for encouraging her boyfriend, Conrad Roy, to kill himself through text message—was convicted of involuntary manslaughter who was seventeen years of age at the time. The death of Conrad Roy shows young teens that just because they are young, does not mean something like this could happen to them. Some bullies are the cause of one's suicidal thoughts, possibly even death, and no one is being held accountable for it. Bullies need more than just referrals or a face-to-face apology with the other student. If the bully or peer causes the student to commit suicide, consequences should be held at a federal charge. Yet this resolution may be a good idea, students being held at a federal charge for the suicidal outcome of another student could run into some issues such as the student being too underage to be held at a juvenile center.

Mental awareness takes on a crucial role within today's generation. Teen suicides should no longer be overlooked and no more individuals should have to suffer. The validation of implementing mental health screenings into the schooling system, mandating that more requirements be put into place for counselors, and more strict penalties for bullies would possibly help prevent suicide. Every human life will indeed come to an end one day, but it does not have to be from the cause of suicide, everyone's mental health matters.

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