On the night of February 10, 2007, 13-year-old Kyle Koslop ended his life in his bedroom. He was the 38th person in Luzerne County under the age of 24 to commit suicide since the year of 2000 (Grochowski). Last year, at least three more students from Luzerne County committed suicide; two students from Pittston Area and one student from Nanticoke. Suicide is a serious problem among adolescents because there are many pressures and obstacles adolescents do not know how to cope with. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death among 15-24-year-olds (Harpaz) because feelings of being overwhelmed and alone are sometimes unrecognized, and because teenagers can be victims of bullying.
Untreated depression and other mental disorders are a key component to teen suicides. Depression, especially, can be triggered by several events in a teenager’s life such as problems at home, breaking up with a boyfriend or girlfriend, and dealing with sexual identity (Will). Maureen Underwood, a social worker who has written suicide prevention school curricula and who works with the Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide, states these “triggering events could push someone off the edge” (Harpaz). Unlike adults, who have the capacity and skills to overcome such obstacles, teenagers have not reached the level to do so. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, at least 90 percent of people who kill themselves have a diagnosable and treatable psychiatric illness (“AFSP: Risk Factors”). Therefore, the awareness of student’s actions and emotions by parents, teachers, and other adults are imperative.
Often times, teenagers become despondent because of the pressures of their academic lives, social lives, and family lives. Unfortunately, parents like Scott Fritz who lost his 15-year-old daughter to suicide, had no idea teen suicide was even a problem (Harpaz) and was unaware of the risks and warning signs of suicide. Kyle Koslop, the 15-year-old boy who killed himself, was a member of the school’s ski club, a straight-A student, vice president of student council, and a volunteer at a nursing home (Grochowski). Obviously, he had a well balanced life and was well liked. Though, he had to have been feeling pressured or overwhelmed. Maybe there was a family issue. Whatever the reason, Kyle never confided in anyone about his feelings, and no one recognized the warning signs. Ann Haas, director of suicide prevention projects at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention stated, "The key risk factor for suicide in youth is unrecognized, untreated mental disorders, particularly depression" (Harpaz). Depression in teenage girls is increasing as the media and society piles on the pressure to be skinny, to be smart, to be athletic, and to be homecoming queen. “In 2004-05 suicide rates jumped […] 32 percent for teenage girls ages 15-18, according to the Centers for Disease Control” (Burrell). Moreover, the strictness of parents and the isolation of teens in Russia have a huge impact on the country’s soaring rate of suicide. Russia’s suicide rate is more than three times that of the United States, averaging five Russians under the age of 20 taking their lives per day (Will). Russia’s culture says do not discuss your problems, which obviously plays a role in the high teen suicide rate. Psychiatry, in Russia, is associated with punishment instead of therapy, and according to Alla Ivanova, a researcher at the Russian Ministry of Health, students have a hard time trusting their teachers and even their psychologists at school (Will). Considering the rates of teen suicide in Russia and the United States, parents and teachers need to become aware of the risks and warning signs of suicidal teenagers so teenagers have an alternative to ending their lives.
Teenagers who are victimized by bullies are at a greater risk...
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