By Alejandro Muñoz Anguiano
Teens and young adults often feel invincible, unless they don’t.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people, according to the Center for Disease Control, behind only vehicular accidents. Sadly, so many suicides are preventable.
Mental health issues drive most youth suicide, and are not taken as seriously as they should be. Primary care doctors often do not treat mental health as seriously as they do physical issues even though the two are completely intertwined, according to a 2016 study by Health Affairs.
When it comes to suicide, supportive people can make a difference.
Suicide rates among 15-24 year olds are at a 30-year high, making it especially important for friends and family to keep watch for signs of depression and intense sadness. Recent data from the National Center for Health Statistics has spurred healthcare professionals to urge college students to be aware of suicide risks among their peers.
“Suicide among adolescents and young adults is increasing and among the leading causes of death for those demographic groups,” the NCHS reported.
A survey by the National College Health Association revealed that 7.1 percent of polled students had seriously considered suicide within the last 12 months. At least two students in each 30-person classroom have suffered from suicidal thoughts.
Not all of these students will actually attempt suicide, according to NCHS statistics, but that does not mean they are do not need help. Suicidal thoughts, even without follow-through, can invade and other aspects of life and are indicative of long-term depression.
Depression sufferers and their peers need to communicate. Isolation creates more danger, CDC studies show.
“Unwillingness to seek help because of the stigma attached to mental health and substance abuse disorders or to suicidal thoughts” is a key risk factor for suicide, according to the CDC report.
This stigma is harmful because it discourages people from seeking the help and services they need. Many fear being branded as someone with a mental disorder. This leads to a vicious cycle of deterioration.
Friends or family should be the first to notice when something is wrong. Risk factors include recent loss or isolation. Friends who notice these signs and take action can save a life.
Students suffering from depression or suicidal thoughts should turn to people they trust and love for help. This is often difficult. Reaching out for help requires overcoming fear of the mental health stigma.
Societal norms are not helpful. Most religions condemn suicide. Unsympathetic people often call suicide victims “selfish” people who “took the easy way out.”
Students with suicidal thoughts must shed the stigma and seek help by contacting the SWC Health Services office in the Student Center, talking openly about mental health and asking professors or college employees about options.
If we talk openly about mental health, we can create a better environment for all young people