I am bewildered and saddened by the growing number of teen suicides in our community.
Why does this keep happening? Why must these bright lights be snuffed out when they are just beginning to shine? My heart aches for the families, the friends, and my mind can’t wrap itself around the why.
Is the pressure of perfection just too much to handle? Today, kids are expected to not only achieve academically, but also to be socially involved in their communities more so than ever before. It’s like every single kids has to be a superstar.
I was struck by this recently while reading the bios in a community theatre junior show program that featured high school students. These kids had lead roles, took lessons to cultivate their talents, were captains of their sports teams and volunteered locally. Where’s the down time? When do they get to just hang out with their friends and be teens?
Maybe it’s the weight of being in the public eye constantly. Everything kids say and do ends up on social media somewhere, whether they share on their own or someone else does it for them. Every tweet or pin has to display the perfection of their lives. There’s no room for weakness or downfall or failure. The must that it’s all good, or shame sets in. It’s even worse when there’s a social media bullying or abuse situation.
Perhaps it’s the lack of foresight ability in teens’ brain paired with their needs for instant gratification that leads them to making such final decisions. It’s a fact that teenagers’ minds are not developed enough to think far ahead. They deal with the here, the now and the tomorrow and are unable to link today’s actions with consequences that might occur in the far future. When the hurt is so tangible, and the need for it to end right now is blaring above all else, maybe these kids don’t think about what happens after they pull the trigger.
In 2013, The Centers for Disease Control stated that 8% of high school students attempted suicide.
The National Institute for Mental Health followed this in 2014 with a study that showed 11% of adolescents between ages 12 and 17 being depressed. These statistics haunt me. I think of my own tween daughters and pray that depression never touches their lives. I wish they could experience the simplicity of childhood that I did at their ages. I pray for all of the families who have lost loved ones to suicide, especially those who have lost children.
A mother’s scream confirms the terrible truth of it as her greatest nightmare reaches out and slaps her in the face. No one hears her, but soon the world finds out. And soon, the men and women wearing the “I’m in charge” name tags compose and distribute an email to all families in the school district, explaining a horror that can never ever make sense.
And counseling is offered to all of the students. And lovely memorial services are planned and attended by many. And the girls and boys are sitting in their algebra and physics classes with big puffy eyes and runny noses, trying their best to focus on x plus y and gravity and motion, but how can they? The unthinkable has happened.
And, a minute later, everyone has texted and tweeted about the terror that has struck their little town –
Did u hear what happened to that girl?
I heard that boy tweeted she was worthless.
I can’t believe it.
Really? Because it’s certainly happened enough times to be more than believable. Three times in one school year seems quite a lot for a horror such as this… and yet.
It keeps happening.
And the mothers and fathers keep on screaming long after the buzz has left the screen.
And the rest of the world continues with x plus y and gravity and motion and texting and tweeting and emails and sleep. And they forget the punch to the gut they felt when the news broke. They forget how they couldn’t breathe for a second when they found out. They forget to remember how fleeting life is, especially in the valley of teenage discontent.
Originally shared on www.danafaletti.blogspot.com.
More about Dana Faletti: Dana Faletti is the author of The Whisper Trilogy, a young adult paranormal romance and Beautiful Secret, a sweeping adult drama of family secrets and forbidden love that is set to be released by Pandamoon Publishing in Summer of 2016. Dana blogs about whatever inspires her at, writes poetry as a survival skill and loves to connect with other writers both online and in person. When she’s not writing, Dana can be found reading on her kindle, cooking something delicious, or daydreaming about her upcoming travel destinations. She lives in in a suburb of Pittsburgh with her husband, three young daughters, and a hypo-allergenic Siberian Forest cat named Fluffy G. Check out her website for more information about Dana and her books. You can also find out more about her books on Amazon.