Thursday, December 22, 2005

Adolescents And Suicide Become Front Page News

With the news today of the apparent suicide death of James Dungy, the son of Indianapolis Colts coach, Tony Dungy brings the debate about adolescent suicide again to the front pages of newspapers around the world. It's so hard to understand how a kid of only 18 years could get so depressed that he would want to end his life at such an early age.

I'll bet everyone reading this knows a person that has been effected by an adolescent suicide. For me it happened when I was a freshman in high school. A close friend and classmate of mine decided to kill himself one night and no one has ever been able to figure out why he did this, but for many years I somehow blamed myself for his actions. I worried that I might have said something wrong or didn't say enough to try and reach him before it was too late.

I finally gave up blaming myself for his suicide, but I still wonder what must be going through the minds of these young people that make them feel such a sense of total hopelessness. I believe that in most cases there is some kind of chemical imbalance in their brains that has gone undetected by friends, family and doctors. I doubt that depressed adolescents would willing reach out for help from anyone, because being your own person and finding out what you really stand for is all part of the growing up process and certainly many kids and parents believe that these feelings are just a phase they will grow out of.

In most cases, kids do grow out of these feelings, but some don't and in those that don't, there must be an imbalance in their brain that brings on these thoughts of self destruction. Top research scientist have been working on this problem for years and there are treatments that will help, IF you can get these kids diagnosed before it's too late.

Parents should play a big part of the diagnosis of this problem. If your child seems distant and won't communicate with their friends or others in the family, this is a problem and you should look for help anywhere you can find it. Depression isn't a stigma anymore and it's just like any other health issue. There are treatments for folks that are depressed and it's no ones fault when depression occurs. No parent wants to lose a child to suicide, but ignoring the problem will not make it go away. You must face these issues head on and find treatment if you notice signs of depression in your family.

Go to the Internet and search for "signs of depression in adolescents" and learn all you can about the warning signs and what treatments are available to your children. Apathy will continue to fuel this crisis, so get involved and learn what you need to know about adolescent mental health issues.

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