There is only one nightmare more frightening to a parent than that the death of one of their children. That is the possibility that he might die at his own hand. Suicide is without a doubt the most devastating tragedy that can befall any family, one that leaves its mark for years to come. It speaks to our innermost sense of helplessness when it comes to raising our children. And, of course, the most terrible thought is that we could have done something to prevent it had we just known.
As the teen years take hold, our fear increases. We watch mood swings and wonder, “Is he just having a bad day, or is it something more?” She locks herself in her room for hours on end and we ask ourselves, “Will she come out of this on her own, or should I seek help?” He makes what appears to be an off hand comment about not wanting to live and we face the dilemma, “If I overreact it may make things worse, but if I do nothing and something happens, how will I ever live with myself?”
Unfortunately, parents have good reasons to be concerned. Suicide is, after all, the third leading cause of death among older teens and young adults, surpassed only by accident and homicide. There are those who say that even a teen involved in an accident or homicide may have been exhibiting a subliminal sort of self-destructive behavior. Nonetheless, a child in high school is more likely to die by his own hand than of cancer, heart disease, AIDS, pneumonia, and influenza put together.
What can cause such a young person to reach such desperation? For most teens, a suicide attempt is a cry for help, a plea for relief from a sense of overwhelming despair in the face of stress. The sources of stress in teens is similar to that of adults: relationship conflicts, family difficulties and traumatic life events, such as the death of a loved one or a cross-country move. However, there is one other factor that is extremely stressful for teens, that adults may not even remember: the pressure to constantly learn and process new information.
Let’s face it, few adults walk into the workplace everyday only to be presented with a stack of information he is expected to master in time for a test next week. But that is the day to day life of a high school student.
Pretend for a moment you are your high school aged child. Everyday you are faced with new intellectual challenges in a wide range of subjects. Most of the material you’ve never seen before, so you have to begin learning from scratch. What happens if you can’t learn the material? Well, you might be able to hide that fact for a while, but eventually it is going to come out. First, your teacher will find out when she grades your test. Maybe she’ll very tactfully lay your paper face down on your desk. But when you pick it up, one of your classmates sees your grade. Soon, your friends hear about it through that insidious grapevine of teen gossip. And of course, eventually your parents will find out, either at a teacher conference or when the report cards come out. And then what? Will they stop you from seeing your all important friends? Will they yell or maybe even hit you? Depending on your circumstances, and how well you can cope with these feelings, the thought of just ending it all may become attractive, especially if this has been the pattern of your whole life.
“Oh, come now,” you may be thinking. “These kids don’t know what real stress is. After all, they’ve probably never heard of a mortgage or the rise in unemployment. What have they got to be worried about?” The answer is, unfortunately for many, you–mum or dad or any other adult whom they want to please. While our kids may pretend not to care about what we think or want, our opinion means a great deal to them. In many ways we are the mirror in which they see themselves. If we are showing them an image of someone who just isn’t up to snuff, they are going to believe they are that person.
You may still be wondering if a learning disability such as dyslexia can really drive a child to such desperation that he would take his own life. Well, according to statistics, it can. One study done in Los Angeles found that 50 percent of students committing suicide had been diagnosed with some sort of learning difference. That is as opposed to five percent of students in the population at large. That means that a teen with a learning disability such as dyslexia is 10 times as likely to commit suicide as someone without a learning difficulty. Even more telling, a study in Canada examined the suicide notes left by 267 teens. According to researchers, an amazing 89% of the notes had spelling and grammatical errors indicative of learning disabilities.
For more information on this and anything else dyslexia, go tottp://www.KinaLearn.com