In the decade between 2006 and 2016, teen suicide in the U.S. soared over 70%, according to the Centers for Disease Control. It was the second leading cause of death for ages 10-24, from a 2018 report. While some adults are able to ignore the steady stream of negative social media, it is the rare teen who can. “Cyber-bullying” – that instant proliferation of vicious “text assault” by their peers – has become one serious cause of the despair that leads to teen suicide. And, unfortunately, there does not seem to be an end in sight, despite the efforts of social media platforms to filter the worst of the bullying.
Are there solutions? Well, there are ideas. Short-term “band-aid” approaches can only offer short-term help. What is needed is an early intervention approach. It starts with teaching our children, at the earliest of ages, to value and respect each other. Parents, grandparents, older siblings – it is our responsibility to help guide those younger citizens in what is acceptable behavior. We are their earliest role models. More than that, it’s our accountability to teach them how to positively interact with each other. Every interaction we have becomes a learning opportunity for our youth.
Additionally, we are accountable to get outside of ourselves and pay attention to those around us. If we take the time to stop, watch and listen, we will raise our own awareness of those who are silently screaming for help, and be able to offer an uplifting word, or some kind, gentle attention. It’s the feeling that no one cares that hastens the slide into that downward spiral to depression.
The downward spiral is an early-warning system. Early recognition can provide the opportunity to stop the slide. We then work to bring ourselves back to the “surface,” perhaps avoiding a full-blown depression. This early detection also gives us the opportunity to get help from someone with professional experience.
Life is precious and, as far as anyone knows, we only get one shot at it here on Earth. We all have contributions to make. The talents and abilities you possess, your character and personality have a purpose. They are a major part of the contribution you make, every day, to the world around you. Does one life truly count? Of course, it does! And it counts every minute of every day!