By Suha Malik, Age 15
Not that long ago, the world was struck with the news that Katherine Noel Brosnahan, professionally known as Kate Valentine or Kate Spade, committed suicide by hanging herself with a scarf, on June 5th, 2018 in her Manhattan apartment. Only three days after this tragedy, famed and esteemed celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain also committed suicide, hanging himself with a bathrobe belt in his hotel in France. The deaths of these esteemed celebrities push the topic of suicide into the spotlight, both nationally and internationally. Obviously there’s a problem because people who we consider to have perfect lives are so depressed and anxiety-struck that they decide that they cannot bear it to continue their lives, coming to the decision to end them. While it is apparent that suicide rates continue to increase, what may startle some people is the fact that an increased number of teens are deciding to commit suicide.
Suicide is the second-leading cause of death in children, teenagers, and young adults. According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, or AACAP, suicide is often seen by teenagers as a way out of their overwhelming problems, and can be caused by, “feelings of stress, self-doubt, pressure to succeed, financial uncertainty, disappointment, and loss”. It’s important to note that all of these things are true, but some may argue that the majority of these things are caused by the stress, lifestyle, and livelihood of school.
The basis for this argument is the fact that teenagers spend most of their time in school, and their thoughts are often revolving around the concept, whether that be homework, exams, tests, or even the fellow students and teachers there. Students are often under pressure to succeed, as AACAP stated, to get good grades and do very well in high school because this is how they are going to shape their future; it’s the determining factor for if they can get into college, if they are deemed educated enough to get a job straight away, etc. Teenagers can also develop suicidal thoughts because of bullying: this may seem cliche, but it is very, very true.
Bullying can be verbal, physical, cyber…the list can go on. Repetitive acts of bullying can drive a student to depression, the factor that mostly causes suicide and is most associated with it. Depression, though, can be caused by large factors – or even just one – as well as a series of smaller factors built up over time. Many may simply ask why these students do not inform others of the bullying that they are experiencing, but again, the answer is startlingly simple and troublesome. Bullying goes on too much during school, and kids do not tell any adults or parents because then they are given a negative stigma for being a “snitch”, “crybaby”, or not being “man” enough to take some “teasing”. Sometimes, students are too embarrassed to tell anybody about the amount of bullying they’ve been the victim of. A more serious reason why teenagers do not express their concerns over bullying they may be receiving is because the adults that they would go to in school simply do not do anything. Teachers may brush severe bullying off as teasing, immaturity, or the result of bad attitudes. Principals may not want to take any action against the bully for fear of parent retribution. I am fortunate enough to say that my current school is not like this at all, that they action whenever necessary, and do not tolerate any forms of bullying, but other kids may not be so lucky.
Because of this reason, it is essential and critical that others around teenagers are able to recognize warning signs, as well as signs of depression. Depression is a treatable mental disorder, and getting someone the help they need may be just the thing that stops them from ending their life. One article, titled, “Schools one part of complicated response to teen suicide, experts say”, stresses the fact that, “…schools play a ‘huge role’ because students spend much of their time there, but getting families involved is crucial. [S]chools can educate the community about the warning signs of suicide — bullying, social withdrawal, expressing hopelessness, substance use — and families should engage in conversations with children and teens”. The article also mentions that in a report released by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, or the CDC, it was found that suicide rates in the United States of America have risen in all of our states except for one; the reality is that while in the certain year the study was observed, the suicide rate went down in New Jersey, over a seventeen year period, it generally has increased.
So, at the end of it all, the recent celebrity suicides of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade show so much more than the fact that they were unhappy, depressed, and anxiety-ridden. They contribute to a larger, much more horrifying picture, that shows how more and more people, everyday, are ending their lives because they feel like they cannot live anymore. It is a truly sad thing that should not be brushed off as statistics or fact. Studies have shown that when people reach out for help if they are suicidal, they are less likely to commit suicide, and the overall suicide rates would go down. It seems that only one good thing has come out of the suicides of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade: there have been increased calls to the Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which you can reach at 1-800-273-8255.