– by Gillian Fraser
Suicide has permeated our culture, and the reality of this shows the desperate state that the world is in. Many are hurting, they are lost, and they are confused. Many do not know how loved they are by God, and do not know how valuable they are in His eyes. For a teenager to be so unbearably unhappy that they would choose to kill themself is something that’s almost too painful for a parent to think about. But with the increasing prevalence of teen suicide, no parent can afford to ignore the possibility.
Rate amongst teens is growing
The suicide rate for teenagers is climbing. It is now the 3rd leading cause of death amongst young people aged 15–24, and the 2nd leading cause of death amongst university students. For every completed suicide, estimates assert that there are as many as 25 attempted suicides. As Christians, we want to be able to help those who consider or attempt suicide to choose a future and a hope instead. Why do so many of today’s teenagers consider death their only option? How can we help teenagers learn other ways of dealing with their problems?
The warning signs
Youth look at this world as becoming more and more hopeless. They have no answer for their pain and despair, and many are choosing suicide as their solution. Suicide is a last attempt to ease the pain, to make a statement, or it can be just a wrong decision giving a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
Keep communication open
If you see any warning signs, asking your teen if they are depressed or thinking about suicide can be helpful. Such questions, filled with love and concern, will provide assurance that you care and will give them the chance to talk about their problems. Get them to commit to you that if they ever do have those thoughts, they’ll let you or someone else know. If your teen doesn’t feel comfortable talking with you, suggest a more neutral person, such as another relative, a counsellor, a pastor, a coach, or your child’s doctor. It’s important to keep the lines of communication open and express your concern, support, and love. If your teen confides in you their loss of hope or control of their life, show that you take those concerns seriously. It’s important not to minimise, mock, or discount what your teen is going through, as this can increase his or her sense of hopelessness.
What steps can a parent take?
If you are the parent of a depressed or potentially suicidal teen, it’s important that you try to understand them, listen to them, and try not to be accusing. Respect your teen’s opinions and problems and avoid blaming them or yourself for their feelings. Being a teenager is hard today and your child is justified in their feelings, even if you may not agree or understand. When you realise this, you can help your child.
Explain to them:
1. What the Bible says about life, and that God has a plan for them (Jeremiah 29:11).
2. The truth that nothing they have done and nothing that has been done to them can separate them from the love and the plan of God (Romans 8).
3. Let them know that nothing they can ever do is ever so bad that the only answer is suicide.
4. Most importantly, let them know that you
love them and are there for them.
JOY! Magazine (January 2019)