Paris Jackson’s suicide attempt made international headlines because of who she is. As the daughter of the late Michael Jackson, she has been famous since she was born. But, in terms of attempted teenage suicides, she is one of many. Comparing her situation to national teen suicide statistics, the main difference is that she is famous.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), suicide is the third leading cause of death in the 15 to 24-year-old age group. Paris is 15 years old. She is “physically healthy,” but she is in the largest at-risk age group. In addition to her age, she has had to deal with some of the most common issues that can escalate from depression into suicidal feelings. For example, one issue is the death of someone close to a teenager. Paris was close to her father and told the world how much she loved him. Another is the rejection by friends or peers. Reports say Paris felt bullied at school.
The top contributing factors that may lead to suicide attempts include:
- Divorce of parents
- Violence in the home
- Inability to be successful at school
- Feelings of worthlessness
- Rejection by friends or peers
- Substance abuse
- Death of someone close to the teenager
- The suicide of a friend or of someone he or she “knows” online
Teenagers think differently than adults. Scientists have determined that teen brains are physically different from adult brains. The cortex, the thin folding outer layer, is still forming. It isn’t until someone reaches their mid-20s that their brain resembles that of an adult. Different parts of the brain mature at different times. While the parts involved with emotional responses are fully engaged, the parts that help control those responses are still developing.
It is important to recognize the factors which can lead to suicide, and to try to prevent the situation from getting worse. Teens need to talk to an adult they trust: either a parent or other close relative, a teacher or counselor, a medical professional, or a religious leader. It is equally important for the adult to listen. An issue that may not be upsetting to an adult at all may seem like it is the end of the world for a teen. This is a good example of how the various parts of the brain do not develop at the same time.
The CDC reports that 60 percent of all high school students have thought about suicide and nine percent have tried it at least once. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), 900,000 youth planned suicide during a major episode of depression. Suicide not only affects the 15 to 24-year-old group, but it is the fourth leading cause of death in the tween group of 10 – 14 years of age.
The number of teenage suicides and attempted suicides has increased over the years. Young people are under a lot of pressure in many ways from their peers to the social and economic pressures of society. It is important to recognize the factors, symptoms, and get treatment.
Written by: Cynthia Collins, Guardian Correspondent
Source: Teen suicide statistics