Teen Suicide Essay

Abstract page

According to the Bertera (2007) suicide is the suicide a major cause of adolescents’ death in the United States and is a global problem. It is “rare in childhood and early adolescence, and becomes more frequent with increasing age “because teenagers are the most emotionally and psychologically reactive group of people given their mental status at a time when for many of them they are undergoing adolescence or are in the last years of adolescence. Many of them faced with a lot of challenges and disappointments in life, often try to find a permanent solution out. Though some of these; problems are connected to adults in a way, the largest culprit is the society under which the adolescents grow. Adolescents learn to interpret thing from their own angle at the on set of puberty, by taking such kind of steps. Issues like drugs and prostitution, stress and depression, family breakups or relationships are some of the causes of teenage suicide. This study will focus on what has been done to arrest the alarming rise in levels of

What can we do as a nation and as individuals to help stop teen suicide? The answer to this problem lies deeply in understanding the source of the problems the students have. By looking at some of these major causes, a way can be combated and to suggest different ways everyone can help to solving the problem. By investigating the trends of suicide among teenagers in America, a sample of teenagers from various backgrounds will be chosen. The target group will be high school students and college students as these are the ones who fall with the specified age groups and share similar characteristics i.e. they are in the same stage of life. The data collected will be analyzed both thematically and descriptively using SPSS and other methods of analysis and the findings will be presented in simple graphs tables and pie charts for purposes of comparison.

This study   is  an attempt to find  ways to get to the bottom of suicide cases and find ways of bringing down the menace which is now spiraling down to even younger teenage of between 4- 15 years who statistics say is the filth highest cause of their deaths

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Suicide is a phenomenon that has stayed with the human race for a very long time. It was a taboo according to many cultures for someone to take their won life. Only in extenuating circumstances permit someone to take their own life, for example when faced with capture in a war, people opted to die than be captured and tortured in order to reveal secrets. In many ways today, suicide today has taken a legal stance such that it is punishable by law to attempt to commit suicide. The morality behind why it was prohibited has since lost meaning or has been forgotten because the world has changed both technologically and socially.  Hence today teenagers who are attempting suicide see it only as breaking rules, something that they are used to in day to life. For instance in America, studies have shown that most of the adolescents do not really believe in following rules. Those who do simply do that to avoid conflict with the authorities but not because they think rules are important. When these two factors have been eliminated, legal aspect and the oral aspect that views suicide as a sin and felony respectively, the adolescent is only left with suicide as a choice like any other such as choosing to eat a beef burger instead of a chicken burger.

Problem statement

Majority of teenagers in America will choose suicide as solution to their problems. When feeling cornered teenagers tend to either outwardly express their displeasure by harming others (random killing of others) or inwardly by hating themselves to the point of committing suicide. Though in most cases the students usually commit suicide, majority of cases of suicide are usually from anger or disappointment directed against the self. The victim usually feels that by killing themselves, they are solving a problem or punishing the people they live behind (if they had something to do with his anger/depression)

Teen suicide levels are so high because of the relative high stress age we live in. there are enough social problems such as “mood disorders “for instance  depression , substance use , loss of a family member or friend to suicide , dysfunctional families, media and peer influence, crime and disappointing relationships (Bertera, 2007). Each of these has contributed to a certain extent of the general decay in society that has produced suicidal teenagers. However depression which isolates the individual from society and from himself and family could be one of the main reasons why teenagers are willing to take their own lives. Feelings of hopelessness which accompany depression are usually hard to just read from someone’s face.

Research hypothesis

The research is based on the hypothesis that depression is the major cause of teenage suicide in the United States. Depression has been named as one of the causes of suicide. Reportedly, the government has tried intervening by making counseling a mandatory exercise for all college going students and trying to encourage dysfunctional families to improve. Other measures such as drug trafficking and narcotics substances prohibition has helped though many adolescents are still accessible to them. The media which is one of the many fueling causes of suicide has been used positively to create awareness about drugs and other societal problems like prostitution

Literature review

Statistics currently show than adolescents between the ages of 12- 21 are mostly predisposed to using drugs, stress, violence and committing suicide. For example in an incident that took place in 2007 at the Georgia tech university, a student aged 21 short at least 15 people on campus including teachers, a guard and others. This is a clear indication that even the schools where we think our children are safe, are in fact the most dangerous.

Other findings about the same subject reveal that in at majority of American households, more than half are broken, dysfunctional or divorced. The pain and depression that usually come with divorce is always borne by the children in the marriage. For instance in most of the surveys that were carried out between 2000-2003, it was discovered that many children believed that, it was their fault their parents were splitting. The surveys also show the significance of the environment either”… public and private spaces, in which youth can congregate …and create a healthy sense of autonomy and interconnectedness with the world around them are … critical factors for positive youth development”. Hence the media which plays a big role in shaping this environment, is also guilty (Evans, 2005)

 Depression is a condition of the mind that occurs when people after undergoing various stressful conditions or after enduring a long period of stress eventually delve into periods of calmness that is seen by isolating one self from other people. Full depression comes in when finally someone totally gives up because they feel hopeless. It is said that 95% of the suicide victims had at least one and mostly more than one diagnosable psychiatric disorder as compared with 48% of the controls (Shafii, 2003). Youth aged 15–19 years especially in high schools had 16.9% of students had seriously considering attempting suicide, family. 16.5% had made a specific plan to attempt suicide, and 8.5% had at least attempted (Randell et al.2006).

Many teenage suicides were common in families with history of suicide, higher in those that had many dysfunctional problems. In some families, teenagers go through abuse, the emotional trauma too great to bear often leads them to suicide.  Many a times the only people who are there to help are social workers. Social workers should encourage many “… that there is hope, that there are ways to cope with frustrating relationships that do not involve their having to be hurt or die.”(Holman, 1997)

Dysfunctional families are increasingly becoming a threat to social order especially with the advancement in technology. Violent computer games and sordid internet games (such as “death games”), Holman says, are being used by   depressed youth to pass time and provide solace. Very often these games become a part of their lives so that there’s risk of violence witnessed in the games being replicated in real ordinary life (1997). He also proposes that putting thoughts into words helps the adolescents reduce the stress that may lead to suicide. Social workers should create communications lines that allow suicidal people to talk.

What does the literature say regarding the current state of knowledge on this issue? Does the literature provide support for the topic as a relevant issue for Social Work?

Research Method

This research will employ a two-stage, cross sectional survey design.(Holman et al,2006) Both survey and interview data with the adolescents will be used to examine the relationships between family risk and suicide-risk behaviors using random samples which might do not limit the generalizability of findings. Conceptualization and measurement of social support and negative social .Thus all the social aspects such as conceptualization and measurement of social support will be considered. To avoid limitations the research will use a suitable theoretical framework which will take care of social dynamics. The research will also employ a parallel sample to compare the positive and negative impacts brought by social change and interactions. The research will be conducted as a survey because of the number of the respondents to be involvement is many. Samples will be randomly selected from high schools and colleges in a specified location that represents the whole country in all aspects. The expected sample size is 1,500. The tools to be used include questionnaires and simple structured interviews.The questionnaires will include questions measuring positive exchanges as well as those questions measuring negative exchanges (Bertera, 2007). Data will be collected and analyzed using Statistical Package for social scientists (SPSS). Both descriptive and thematic analysis of data will be given with respect to different contexts and the results will be presented in tables and graphs and pie charts. Data will be collected from different schools and different colleges in the suitable area which must share a lot in terms of homogeneity with the entire United States.

Reliability and Validity

Reliability will be assessed using the asymptomatic significance measured by the Chi square tests.The square tests are significance tests which test if there’s a real causal relationship between any two variables being compared; the standard significance value is 0.05. Any value [computed using the Statistical Package for social scientists] that is higher than this will be interpreted to mean that the two variables being compared in the research are independent from each other and therefore do not have a causal relationship.

Anticipated Findings

The research intends to find a direct causal relationship between teenagers who have experienced / are experiencing depression and their attitude towards suicide. This means that  suicide ideation in adolescents is expected to be higher in the presence of negative social exchanges that cause depression e.g. family problems (Bertera,2007) It is expected that since more than half of all the respondents in the research are expected to have at one time had to see a psychologist or counselors because of depression. The expected response to those who had considered suicide as a way out is expected to be even more than those who had history of depression. This is significant in showing that other factors also contribute to suicides by teens.

The findings will also indicate if the respondents have had family problems (major) problems such as divorce, abuse, break ups and fights. Looking at how the effect of the context on the final outcome of the research will affect the hypothesis, the results from the in-depth structured questions and their thematic effect on the outcome of the whole research.

Providers, especially social workers need to identify both positive and negative exchanges that adolescents experience with family and peers (Bertera, 2007). In addition the threat of school violence by children and adolescents in schools and colleges should be taken seriously as they may help avert thing like the recent shootings in schools (Shafii, 2003)


Shafii, M & Shafii, L, .S (2003) School Violence, Depression, and Suicide: Journal of Applied Psychoanalytic Studies, Vol. 5, No. 2, April 2003 (C° 2003)

Bertera M E (2007): The Role of Positive and Negative Social Exchanges Between Adolescents, their Peers and Family as Predictors of Suicide Ideation Published online: 21 September 2007

Evans, P. W et al (2005) Environmental Factors, Locus of Control, and Adolescent Suicide

Risk Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal, Vol. 22, Nos. 3–4, August 2005

Randel, l P. B et al (2006). Family Factors Predicting Categories of Suicide Risk: Journal of Child and Family Studies, Vol. 15, No. 3, June 2006), pp. 255–270

Holman D.S.W (1997) “Who Would Find You?” A Question for Working with Suicidal Children and Adolescents: Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal Volume 14, Number 2, April 1997