Introductory Essay By Betsy L. Angert | Originally Published at EmpathyEducates. December 22, 2013
For youth between the ages of 10 and 24, suicide is the third leading cause of death. Approximately 4600 young lives are lost each year. A nationwide survey of youth in grades 9–12 in public and private schools in the United States (U.S.) found that 16% of students reported seriously considering suicide, 13% reported creating a plan…
~ Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Look what we have done to our young ones. We’ve locked them up in a world of “fun” and turned it upside down. Look what we’ve done to our sons and daughters. It begins at birth; we start to plan. Where are the best preschools? College may be pricey, but preschool will blow your mind, or your budget if you can afford to have one. The pressure is on – not just you, but your child. He or she must perform. Children as young as the age of 4, work to conform.
Still whether we are broke or with billfolds bulging, we look for the best, the best schools, the best grades, the best video games. And, oh yes, those test scores. In 2013, Washington D.C. charter schools announced that “for the purposes of assessing their academic progress and ranking schools according to the results students ages 3, 4, and 5 will be tested. The standardized exams are not intended to assess social and emotional learning. No, that is thought a frill. Instead let us convince the very young that the thrill is in academic skill.
Success is our societal standard. Regardless of the research and the opines of Developmental Psychologists we move forward leaving our children behind.
Bright lights. Big cities. Guns. Drugs. And Alcohol. Color me mellow, or color me blue. Small towns and the beautiful ‘burbs. Color me serene or color me chartreuse, green with envy, pink for pretty, but not pretty enough. Paint me Black for pride and then steep me in prejudice. Color me invisible in the land of invincibility or paint me like a rainbow and deny me my rights. It’s insane, inane and are we having fun yet?
There are shoes to fill, scores to achieve, careers to choose, college too. And yes, there is the dream. The life of a teen or a tween…It is not what it once was.
This is the new normal. Hypomania, anxiety, and yes the greatest high. I have 5,000 BFFs, 4,000 followers. For a price, you can get more. Yes, the cost may be cyber-bullies and then sadly, what for too many young ones, the cure is suicide. But hey, that is the price we pay. It will be fun – to look like a success, to run with the cool crowd, to have the latest ipad, iphone, to find Instagram fame. Perhaps it will deflect the depression.
Perhaps those were the days. In the 1930s, that is when we as a country were mired in depression or perhaps not. Life was slower then. There was less opportunity for fun. Nonetheless, people were not nearly as numb. A recent study shows, between the years of 1938 and 2007, on average five times as many students surpassed the thresholds set for mental health wellness.
“A few individual categories increased at an even greater rate — with six times as many scoring high in two areas:
— “hypomania,” a measure of anxiety and unrealistic optimism (from 5 percent of students in 1938 to 31 percent in 2007)
— and depression (from 1 percent to 6 percent)
Again we might ask; what have we done, done to innocence, excellence, and the idea of what is essential? We made the world move more swiftly. If this was for the sake of fun, our children say give me a gun, a rope…all I ever wanted was a reason to hope and to live a healthy life. But it seems that possibility is fleeting. Fast and fun can be fetching; it can be depressing. It can leave us guessing. Why might it be that…
1 In 12 Teens Have Attempted Suicide: Report
The Attempted Suicide Rate For High School Students Has Risen From 6.3% To 7.8% In The Last Three Years.
Teen suicide is a growing problem, a new study shows. Nearly 1 in 6 high school students has seriously considered suicide, and 1 in 12 has attempted it, according to the semi-annual survey on youth risk behavior published Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
More female teens than males have attempted or considered suicide, the survey found. The rate was highest among Hispanic females, at 13.5%, and lowest among white males, at 4.6%. Students struggled with suicide more during the first two years of high school – roughly ages 14 to 16. Rates dropped off slightly when students reached junior and senior year.
Overall, the suicide rate among teens has climbed in the past few years, from 6.3% in 2009 to 7.8% in 2011, numbers which reflect the trend gaining national attention as more teen suicides are reported as a result of bullying.
According to the survey about 20% of high-schoolers said they’d been bullied while at school, and 16% said they’d been ‘cyberbullied’ through email, chat, instant messaging, social media or texting.
As more and more forms of communication spring up, there’s opportunity for bullying to occur, which could eventually lead to an increased rate of attempted suicides, neuropsychologist Dr. Hector Adames told MSNBC.
“What happens with an increase in communication among students is that there’s more pressure. There’s more bullying,” he said. “When adolescence and children feel embarrassed, it’s kind of like the end of the world for them.”
Electronics are encouraging other risky behavior too, the CDC study found.
The majority of older teens admitted to texting or emailing on their mobile phones while driving – 58% of seniors and 43% of juniors.
Considering a typical teen sends and receives about 100 text messages a day, the figures aren’t too surprising, Amanda Lenhart, senior researcher at the Pew Research Center, told the Associated Press.
The CDC anonymously surveyed more than 15,000 high school students in the U.S. over a one-year period, with a 95% confidence rate.
References and Resources…
- Secrets Of A Preschool Admissions Coach By Elyse Moody. Forbes. August 18, 2013
- Peer pressure in preschool children: Children as young as 4 years of age conform their public opinion to the majority, Science Daily. October 25, 2011
- CDC – Youth Suicide – Suicide – Violence Prevention – Injury Center/ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- D.C. charter schools to give standardized tests to young children , By Valerie Strauss. Sam Chaltain. The Washington Post. August 22, 2013
- Why Giving Standardized Tests to Young Children is Really Dumb. By
David C. Berliner.National Education Policy Center. July 19, 2011
- Paying For Followers May Cost You A Job. By Chereen Zaki, Forbes. March 26, 2013
- Study: Youth now have more mental health issues, By Martha Irvine. Boston.com. The Boston Globe, January 11, 2010
- Kids ‘absolutely’ feel parents’ stress, 30% worry about finances. USA Today. November 2, 2000
- How Stressed Parents Scar Their Kids. By Sharon Begley. The Daily Beast. September 12, 2011
- ‘A very dangerous time’ drives up teen suicides after years of decline. Psychological Articles.
- Generation Me: Why Today’s Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled–and More Miserable Than Ever Before. By Jean M. Twenge
- Birth cohort increases in psychopathology among young Americans, By Jean M. Twenge a,⁎, Brittany Gentile b, C. Nathan DeWall c, Debbie Ma, Katherine Lacefield, David R. Schultz. Clinical Psychology Review. October 2009
- Facts About suicide. American foundation for Suicide Prevention.