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We must prevent teenage suicide

There is a debate in the UK Parliament today to consider including suicide prevention curriculum in UK Schools. In my view this is long overdue. In the many years that I have been working with traumatised and chaotic teenagers I can tell you that 100% tell me that they have considered, or even attempted suicide.

Suicide is the biggest killer of young people in the UK.

It is important to understand why suicide is so prevalent among teenagers, and how we can prevent it. Teenagers are at a higher risk for suicide than adults because they have more emotional problems and less experience dealing with them. They also feel more pressure from their peers, who may bully or ostracise them if they don't fit in with the crowd. In addition, teenagers may lack the ability to cope with problems like parental divorce or financial hardship because they haven't yet developed mature coping mechanisms such as problem-solving skills or self-soothing techniques (such as meditation).

So what are the risk Factors?

Risk factors for suicide include:

  • Mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety.

  • Substance abuse, particularly alcohol dependence.

  • Bullying or other forms of social exclusion (for example, being a victim of cyberbullying).

Are there any warning signs?

Warning signs that someone may be at risk of suicide include:

  • Depression

  • Anxiety

  • Withdrawal from friends and family, or reduced participation in activities they used to enjoy

  • Self-harming behaviour, such as cutting or burning themselves

  • Talking about suicide

What can we do about it?

To prevent suicide, it's important to have a plan in place. This can be as simple as talking with your child about the signs of depression and encouraging them to seek help if they are feeling overwhelmed or sad. It's also important not to ignore warning signs like suicidal thoughts or behaviour; if you suspect that your child may be considering suicide, talk with them about how they are feeling and offer support. If you know someone who is struggling with depression or other mental health issues, consider reaching out on their behalf. A simple phone call could make all the difference in helping someone get connected with professional care before it's too late.

Who can help?

We can help at Transform, your GP can help and there are a number of organisations and information available for young people. These include:

  • Papyrus is the UK's leading charity dedicated to preventing suicide in young people. It provides advice on how to talk about suicide resources for parents and teachers.

  • The Mix is an online community where you can chat with other teens about your problems or just hang out with friends. You can also see what's going on in their lives through videos, pictures and blogs posted by other users on the site's social media platform.

  • Samaritans offers confidential support 24 hours a day for people who are experiencing feelings of distress or despair, including those which could them towards suicide (aritansusa.org).

  • CALM (the Campaign Against Living Miserably) helps men feel less isolated by providing them with access to helpful services such as helplines; local events such as walks and sports tournaments; one-to-one mentoring schemes run by volunteers from within their communities who have been trained specifically in dealing with issues affecting men such as depression/anxiety disorders etcetera...

How to Help...

  • Listen.

  • Ask. Don't assume that you know what's going on in their life, because you probably don't. Ask them how they're feeling and what they need from you--this is a great time to practice active listening skills.

  • Give support and be there for them, no matter what happens during this difficult time in their life (or yours). It may feel like nothing will help at first, but community of people who care about each other, we can make a difference!

  • Signpost them towards resources or local services which offer support both online and offline so that they have somewhere else besides social media where they can reach out without being judged by others who might not understand how hard things are right now for those struggling with mental health issues such as depression/anxiety etcetera...

Should you talk about suicide? How?

  • Be direct.

  • Don't judge or criticise the person or their situation.

  • Ask open-ended questions, such as "What do you think about suicide?" or "How did it make you feel when your friend died by suicide?"

  • Show understanding and concern for what they're going through by using empathetic statements such as, "I can imagine how difficult this must be for you."

  • Offer hope by letting them know that there are ways to get help if they need it (e.g., calling a helpline).

While there are many resources available to people who are struggling with mental health issues, it's important to remember that prevention is the best way to reduce suicide rates. By providing support for those at risk and educating the general public about how they can help, we can make a real difference in preventing teen suicide in England. The number of suicides among teens has been rising steadily since 2012 and continues to climb today. While this may be partly due to increased reporting methods, it also suggests that there aren't enough resources available for young people who need them most--and this needs to change as soon as possible if we want our young people healthy long into the future.


Teresa Cullen



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