My wife Heather and I absolutely love to travel. We especially enjoy non-tourist places where you can get a feel for the local culture. I have not been able to travel as much as I like lately and have become an avid viewer of Anthony Bourdain’s shows Parts Unknown, the Layover, and No Reservations. These programs have allowed me to travel vicariously. Anthony Bourdain was insightful, interesting and indignant, all characters I liked very much. I was heartbroken to hear that he took his own life. I will likely never understand what causes this troubling human phenomenon but worry about my own kids knowing just how difficult it can be growing up.
One in five teenagers in the U.S. seriously considers suicide annually according to data collected by the CDC. Around 8% of adolescents attempted suicide, representing around 1 million teenagers, of whom nearly 300,000 receive medical attention for their attempt. Sadly, 1,700 teenagers die by suicide each year. Suicide is the number two cause of death for young people between 15 and 24 years of age.
Sadly, the national trend shows a significant increase in the number of people who take their own lives. Between 1999 and 2016, a CDC study indicates that suicide rates have increased in nearly every state. Half of the states, including Montana saw an increase of over 30 percent during that time.
There are things we can do as parents to better understand when typical ups and downs of a teenager turn into something more. Here are some recommendations from healthychildren.org :
1. Don’t let your teen’s depression or anxiety snowball;
2. Listen—even when your teen is not talking;
3. Never shrug off threats of suicide as typical teenage melodrama;
4. Seek professional help right away;
5. Share your feelings;
6. Encourage your teen not to isolate himself or herself from family and friends;
7. Recommend exercise;
8. Urge your teen not to demand too much of himself or herself;
9. Remind your teen who is undergoing treatment not to expect immediate results;
10. If you keep guns at home, store them safely or move all firearms elsewhere until the crisis has passed.
A Center’s for Disease Control study indicates that for every suicide, 25 people have attempted suicide. Like most Americans, I have had someone very close to me attempt suicide. I have to tell you, it came with what seemed to me like no warning. I guess you never know the roof is leaking until you go inside. I hope I am more understanding and better prepared if anyone else I love feels the same in the future.