Vanita Halliburton, president, of the Grant Halliburton Foundation at the invitation of Dr. Graham Sweeney, Superintendent of Boles ISD, made a very sober presentation at the Texan Theater today. The subject was suicide among teens. Approximately 100 teachers, coaches and youth leaders were in attendance.
Did you know that suicide is the third leading cause of death of children between 10 and 19 in the United States It is a mental disorder and is often associated with depression. Severe depression is the most common mental disorder and affects more than 2 million teens nationwide. More teens die by suicide than from cancer, heart disease, birth defects, AIDS, stroke or pneumonia combined. Texas loses one young person per day as a result of suicide. There may be more deaths that could be attributed to an overdose, drowning or highway accident.
You may ask yourself “why would someone want to die”? That person may answer “I don’t. I just want to end the pain”. All that attempt suicide have said that they would rather live if that option was available at the time. That being said it is imperative that parents, teachers, coaches, scout leaders, music teachers and church leaders recognize the symptoms. They are noticeably dramatic changes in behavior. This may be a dramatic change or noticeably aggressive and reckless behavior. Sometimes you will see somber art work or drawings. Sometimes the teen will write out a plan of action to end the pain. There may be an increased use of alcohol or drugs. Old friends may be cast aside others may take their place.
What can you do if you are suddenly thrust into a situation involving a depressed teen aged child. One is to listen and ask questions. Ask how long you may have felt this way. Do not be afraid of asking the child if they are thinking of dying. If any of these answers are yes then get help immediately. Do not leave the troubled person alone.
There is hope. There is help and there is peace of mind. Remember the acronym TAG. Take it seriously, ask leading questions and get help. Unlike the theme song that introduced the movie MASH, suicide is not painless. It causes a great deal of pain for those left behind. If you know of anyone that is having thoughts of self harm then call (800) 273-8255. It is a national hotline that connects with a local help line based upon your area code when the call comes in.