A 16-YEAR-OLD girl that we will call Emily listed her reasons for wanting to die. ‘I feel as if I have no future, I feel really inferior to those bullying me in school, and I am extremely lonely.’ A 17-YEAR-OLD boy that we will call James listed his reason for wanting to die. ‘Alone, no one knowing, I have struggled with same-sex attraction for years now.’ A 14-YEAR-OLD boy that we will call Ethan listed his reason for wanting to die. ‘My father beats my mother, my little sister, and I am powerless to stop it.’ A 13-YEAR-OLD girl that we will call Abigail listed her reason for wanting to die. ‘Nothing I do pleases my mother. She is not satisfied with the good grades, my being on a sports team, and a part of every extracurricular program at school. It just is not enough for her. My mother never has anything good to say about me.’ Other young ones have wanted to end their life because of bullying, cyberbullying, stress, sexual abuse, drug and alcohol abuse, mental disorders, not fitting in, among other reasons. Suicide is the SECOND leading cause of death for ages 10-24. (2015 CDC WISQARS) Suicide is the SECOND leading cause of death for college-age youth and ages 12-18. (2015 CDC WISQARS)
More teenagers and young adults die from suicide than from cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia, influenza, and chronic lung disease, COMBINED. Each day in our nation, there is an average of over 5,240 attempts by young people grades 7-12. Four out of Five teens who attempt suicide have given clear warning signs.”
In the 1980s and 1990s, America’s suicide trend was going in the right direction, namely, down. Why has there been such a dramatic change? “A thought I was having was why most of my kids have attempted suicide and often times it has been anger inspired, used as a means to get someone to notice, and most often because of thoughts that by killing themselves, they would be saving their parents from themselves thinking they were inherently damaged or evil. The other thought is when I am in session and I am helping a teen to realize that they do have control of their lives; I have to be careful how to phrase it because they hear control and think people are blaming them. Depression doesn’t like to take accountability that depression is maintained by choices which can be changed.” (Heather Freeman)
It is really difficult to pinpoint one specific risk factor that indeed, truly is the driving force behind this rising trend. Without placing blame, we can look at the pressures on teens today. The one thing that we know is, when young ones enter puberty, their own body and mind are assaulting them with new feeling and emotions. They have pressures from parents, teachers, and peers. They are exposed to the relentless internet social media tools, TV, movies, and music. They are peer pressured to engage in sexual relations, drugs, and alcohol.
While being handicapped with physical (hormones) and mental (massive growth spurt and brain remodeling), through no fault of their own, they are asked to navigate a life filled with everyday pressures that were not present at this level in the 1980s. Parents, teachers, coaches and the like influenced the youth of the 1970s and 1980s. Most young people today are very much influenced by hip-hop, rap, and heavy metal music, as well as reality television, celebrities, movies, video games, and the internet, especially social media. Parents are now allowing their children to receive life-altering opinions, beliefs, and worldviews from the likes of Khloe Kardashian. Kim Kardashian and her family rose to prominence with their reality television series, Keeping Up with the Kardashians.
The so-called ABC Family Channel (owned by Disney) comes across as a channel that you would want you children watching. However, most of the shows are nothing more than dysfunctional families, promotions of homosexuality as an alternative lifestyle, and young actors and actresses that are playing underage teens in high school, running around killing, causing havoc, and having sexual intercourse with multiple characters on the show. In August 2006, an all-new slogan and visual style premiered on ABC Family: A New Kind of Family. The channel shows such programming as Pretty Little Liars, Twisted, The Fosters, Melissa & Joey, Switched at Birth, The Lying Game, Bunheads and Baby Daddy.
The world has added new words to their vocabulary, like “sexting,” which is the act of sending sexually explicit messages and/or photographs, primarily between cell phones. The term was first popularized in 2007. Then, there is “F-Bomb,” which we are not going to define fully other than to say that the dictionary considers it “a lighthearted and printable euphemism” for something far more offensive. If all of the above is unfamiliar to you as a parent, and you have a teen or preteen child, you may want to Google the information.
Regardless of the degree of the relationship, these relationships often influence the thinking of a young life. It is important that you do not allow the wrong persons to influence you or your children. The truth is our thinking, and our actions are a direct result of bad associations, be it the wrong friends, music, celebrities, video games, or social media. The same holds true of good associations, like our parents, teachers, coaches, and good friends. Young ones are often lacking knowledge and are too inexperienced to handle stress and anxiety in a positive way.
Sadly, many parents dismiss the idea that their child is one who would consider taking their own life, ‘such things only happen in the poor neighborhoods, or to certain ethnic groups, not my child.’ Oh, how wrong they are. Suicide does not seek out the poor, a specific ethnic group, or one particular gender. It affects all young ones. The same problems that plague our young ones today cut across economic, social, and racial lines. In fact, we have seen more Caucasian, middle- to upper-middle-class, and under the age of sixteen, male or female. The primary reasons for the rise in suicides are changes in the family (fractured families), changing views of discipline, the media assault, social media, and diminished morals and values (tremendous pressure to experiment with sex), and increased isolation (eating alone, traveling alone, entertaining themselves alone, spending hours in a virtual world).
There is little doubt that the youth of 2000-2017 are experiencing pressures and problems that their parents, teachers, and coaches struggle to relate. Therefore, there is little wonder that many youths fall into drugs, alcohol, smoking, sexual promiscuity, crime, abusing and being abused by peers, among many other disturbing actions. Is there anything that can be done to help the youth of our day?
Why Go On?
IF YOU met Madison, you would believe she is witty, friendly, and fond of company and a very sociable young woman. However, below this appealing veneer lurks a young girl in tremendous crippling hopelessness that leaves her feeling as though she is worthless and there is no end in sight for days, weeks, or even months at a time. “I have an urge to end my life every day,” says Madison. “I know that the world would be far better off without my presence, and the pain would stop.”
Many youths say that they would never dream of killing themselves. Still, they all have the deep feeling that there are no reasons for going on with their lives. Some have even hoped that some sort of accident would take their pain away for them. They view death as a release, a way out, a friend, not their enemy.
Before beginning this book, allow us to share one remarkable truth with you the reader. The thing that has contributed not caused you to desire an ending of your life is not the pains, pressures, and problems of life but rather your perception of those pains, pressures, and problems. The bookend to that truth is this, if you can alter your perception of these pains, pressures, and problems, they will no longer affect you in a detrimental way. You feel, think, and believe that you have a reason to die; we want to change your perception, giving you a reason to keep living. There are many reasons to keep living if yours is not covered in this book, it exists, and many are willing and able to help you find it. Because of the popular suspense novel and Netflix TV series Thirteen Reasons Why the character chose to commit suicide, THIRTEEN REASONS TO KEEP LIVING came to life as a book idea.
Please consider THIRTEEN REASONS TO KEEP LIVING.
 WISQARS (Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System) is an interactive database system that provides customized reports of injury-related data.
 Youth Suicide Statistics – Parent Resource Program. (June 07, 2017) http://jasonfoundation.com/prp/facts/youth-suicide-statistics/