Why do Teens Want to Kill Themselves?
Most teens interviewed after making a suicide attempt say that they did it because they were trying to escape from a situation that seemed impossible to deal with or to get relief from really bad thoughts or feelings. Like Ethan, they didn't want to die as much as they wanted to escape from what was going on. And at that particular moment dying seemed like the only way out. Some people who end their lives or attempt suicide might be trying to escape feelings of rejection, hurt, or loss. Others might be angry, ashamed, or guilty about something. Some people may be worried about disappointing friends or family members. And some may feel unwanted, unloved, victimized, or like they're a burden to others. We all feel overwhelmed by difficult emotions or situations sometimes. But most people get through it or can put their problems in perspective and find a way to carry on with determination and hope. So why does one person try suicide when another person in the same tough situation does not? What makes some people more resilient (better able to deal with life's setbacks and difficulties) than others? What makes a person unable to see another way out of a bad situation besides ending his or her life? The answer to those questions lies in the fact that most people who commit suicide have depression. Depression
Depression leads people to focus mostly on failures and disappointments, to emphasize the negative side of their situations, and to downplay their own capabilities or worth. Someone with severe depression is unable to see the possibility of a good outcome and may believe they will never be happy or things will never go right for them again. Depression affects a person's thoughts in such a way that the person doesn't see when a problem can be overcome. It's as if the depression puts a filter on the person's thinking that distorts things. That's why depressed people don't realize that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem in the same way that other people do. A teen with depression may feel like there's no other way out of problems, no other escape from emotional pain, or no other way to communicate their desperate unhappiness. Sometimes people who feel suicidal may not even realize they are depressed. They are unaware that it is the depression not the situation that's influencing them to see things in a "there's no way out," "it will never get better," "there's nothing I can do" kind of way. When depression lifts because a person gets the proper therapy or treatment, the distorted thinking is cleared. The person can find pleasure, energy, and hope again. But while someone is seriously depressed, suicidal thinking is a real concern. People with a condition called bipolar disorder are also more at risk for suicide because their condition can cause them to go through times when they are extremely depressed as well as times when they have abnormally high or frantic energy (called mania or manic). Both of these extreme phases of bipolar disorder affect and distort a person's mood, outlook, and judgment. For people with this condition, it can be a challenge to keep problems in perspective and act with good judgment. Substance Abuse
Teens with alcohol and drug problems are also more at risk for suicidal thinking and behavior. Alcohol and some drugs have depressive effects on the brain. Misuse of these substances can bring on serious depression. That's especially true for some teens who already have a tendency to depression because of their biology, family history, or other life stressors. The problem can be made worse because many people who are depressed turn to alcohol or drugs as an escape. But they may not realize that the depressive effects alcohol and drugs have on the brain can actually intensify depression in the long run. In addition to their depressive effects, alcohol and drugs alter a person's judgment. They interfere with the ability to assess risk, make good...
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