These are words from a 15-year-old’s suicide note: “I can’t handle this sucky world any longer.” My first encounter with teen suicide came in the early 1970’s when a childhood neighbor and friend took her own life as a high school student. Just a young kid myself, it was confusing, dark, and difficult to think about. But it was real. Sadly, it wasn’t my last encounter. If you’re in youth ministry, you encounter it way too much.
Experts now remind us that since we are in the Spring, teen suicides will most likely once again be on the rise. While the reasons for this are many, one that stands out is that springtime usually makes us feel good. Kids who are not feeling good and dealing with depression are especially sensitive to the fact that everyone else is feeling good. Contrasting their own moods with those who are happy can trigger suicidal thoughts and attempts.
Youth workers and parents should be thinking about how to recognize the signs of depression and suicide so that they can intervene to help kids move from hurt to healing. I want to invite you to join me for a free one-hour webinar – “Suicide, Depression and Hurting Kids: You Can Save a Life!” – that I am hosting on Thursday, April 25th, at 1pm (Eastern Time). I’ll be having a conversation on hurting kids with CPYU Associate Staffers Rich Van Pelt and Marv Penner. With years of counseling and crisis intervention experience between them, Marv and Rich are uniquely equipped to help you understand the signs of risk, and to prepare you to act on behalf of desperately hurting kids. Rich and Marv will help you know what to look for and what to do when you suspect that a student might be suicidal. In addition, we will point you to some helpful resources on helping hurting kids that you can use in your church and community. You can register here.
Here are some teen suicide facts and figures from my book, Youth Culture 101: