Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness (c)2017 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries
When suicide ends the life of a young person, our first reaction is often disbelief. News reports around suicide often include reactions such as: “Shocking!”; “She seemed to have everything going for her.”; “He never left a hint he was so troubled.”
Surprise is based on an assumption that suicide among our youth is rare. The real numbers WILL shock you.
Annually, one in five teenagers in the U.S. seriously considers suicide. That leads to an average of over 5,240 attempts by children and teenagers grades 7-12 each day.
Let us do the quick math. That is 36, 680 attempts per week. Over 146,000 per month. Over 2 million each year.
Shocked now? No wonder suicide’s rank has recently climbed to become the 2nd leading cause of death for youths ages 10-24.
We must grow past our fear of learning about and discussing mental illness.
90 out of 100 people across all age groups who have died by suicide had an untreated or under treated mental illness. Mood disorders are some of the most pervasive of all mental disorders and this includes (but is not limited to) major depression and bipolar depression which are the leading causes of suicide. Over a fourth of our youth have a diagnosable mood disorder. Only about half of these seek or receive treatment. We need to know about treatment options.
Many children and teens feel down and blue at times, but for some these feelings last longer and grow more intense. Life can become a chore. These young people and their families may not recognize symptoms of a very treatable and manageable condition.
Sometimes, we miss cries for help because we are not watching for them. In fact, four out of five teens who attempt suicide have given clear signs in the weeks or days prior. We need to know what mental illness looks like.
Each year suicide claims the lives of youth who seemed happy, well-liked, and successful. Stigma against mental illness has helped many to run from emotional pain through self-medication or self-abuse. Talking about it seems taboo. We need to know how important it is to address the issue.
It’s OK to not be OK! Here is your next step.
If you are feeling depressed or having suicidal thoughts, or if you are worried about someone else, you need to know it is brave to reach out.
- In a safety crisis such as being in danger of suicide, immediately go to the emergency room.
- Consider setting up an appointment with a mental health professional or calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK).
- Remember to reach out to the One who loves you best – God.
Each of us, by asking for help and talking about mental illness and suicide, can step out of society’s rhythm and challenge the stigma that keeps young and older persons alike silent and ashamed, uninformed and unhearing, and dying much too soon.
Today’s Helpful Word
“Many are saying of my soul, “There is no deliverance for him in God.” But You, O LORD,are a shield about me, My glory, and the One who lifts my head. I was crying to the LORD with my voice, And He answered me from His holy mountain…”
NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.
If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help is yours.
**Information for this article is gathered from the following sources:
http://www.cdc.gov Center for Disease Control
http://www.nami.org National Alliance for Mental illness
https://www.afsp.org American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
http://www.nimh.nih.gov National Institute for Mental Health
http://www.cpa-apc.org Canadian Psychological Association