By Niko Mellino
With a recent study showing that one in five Canadian teens have seriously considered committing suicide, physicians are desperate to educate the public on the topic.
The 2016 online survey conducted by Kids Help Phone examined 1,300 Canadian youths from ages 13 to 18 throughout the nation and found that 22 per cent had contemplated in taking their life prematurely, while almost half of those orchestrated a plan to do so.
Paige Abbott, Clinical Services Director at Health Upwardly Mobile (HUM), has been working at the integrated health and wellness company since 2011, and sees the study is a call for a collective push from all to create a more coherent and impactful society.
“We have to be more preventative than reactionary,” Abbott said in a telephone interview.
The study exposed various problems that triggered teens into considering suicide, top of the list was body or self-image at 46 per cent, relationships at a slighter 40 per cent, while suicidal thoughts−22 per cent−then rejection and depression at 21 percent.
Eleven per cent goes to violence at home or school, bullying 10 per cent, gender issues 10 percent, and drug and alcohol addiction at nine per cent.
The study said girls rank at twice as likely to contemplate taking their life compared to males, however almost half of those who truly pondered suicide did not talk to anyone about their intentions.
As the survey details the motives for the suicidal mentality, it also displays several reasons why adolescents may struggle to reach out and ask for help, the list includes: they don’t know who to talk to, they’re afraid of parents finding out, they think the problem will go away, they don’t think it’s important enough, and they can take care of it themselves.
The Teen Talk study also conveys that for those who had seriously considered the fatal act−55 percent of them−researched social media or the web for information regarding suicide.
“My hope in the dialogue of mental health and addiction with society is to be more open and honest,” said Abbott.
The HUM psychologist who specializes in addiction, mental health and chronic pain revealed three possible reasons for a teen that may be in a high-risk situation: the juvenile brain isn’t yet full developed, there may be an untreated mental health issue such as addiction or depression, and a generational risk which implies parents having their own mental health or addiction issues spilled into their child’s life.
Studies have shown that more than 90 percent of suicide victims have a diagnosable psychiatric illness.
“Everybody thinks about escape at one point their life, but the teenage brain isn’t fully developed and they can’t comprehend the consequences of their decisions,” said Abbott.
The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) mentions within their online site that suicide is the second leading cause of death for those within the ages of 15 to 24 years old, trailing behind car accidents.
The webpage also discloses that the national suicide rate among youth is ranked third amongst the industrial world, a fact that reveals the true gravity of the epidemic.
Danae Dyck, a 23 year old, who once had a brief brush with suicidal thoughts at the age of 13, gave some insight on the dark moment while being interviewed face to face.
“I wanted to escape the way I was feeling,” said Dyck.
She later insisted that the feeling had possibly stemmed from a feeling of abandonment, which she had developed at an early age.
Dyck started to self-harm when she was 13 years old, just before entering the 8th grade.
The Prince Albert born girl moved to Calgary to attend the Alberta Adolescent Recovery Centre (AARC), a long-term addiction facility for youngsters, in 2011 due to substance abuse and has remained within the city since her graduation.
If someone notices warning signs from an individual, Abbott mentions that you must be open to an honest conversation and ask directly if they feel suicidal.
CHMA provides a list with various warnings signs that indicate suicidal thought: suicidal thoughts, substance abuse, purposelessness, anxiety, feeling trapped, hopelessness and helplessness, withdrawal, anger, recklessness, and mood changes.
If you are in need of assistance or know of someone who cares for help, visit the http://www.kidshelpphone.ca or the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention and discover a 24-hour crisis centre.
Teens Talk 2016:
Canadian Mental Health Association:
Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention: