On Tuesday, Aug. 24, a front page article on teen suicide failed to address the issues beyond the statistics. As mothers of sons who have died by suicide, part of the tragedy is the fact that these boys were (and are) good boys, not juvenile delinquents, as is suggested in this article. A small group of parents (12), meets as a support group and in talking about our six sons, it is important to note that five of these teens were Eagle Scouts, had after-school jobs, were active in church and/or sports and had at least average grades, parents who were at home and families who enjoyed doing activities together.
We (the parents) appreciate that this subject is brought to public attention, and that Doug Gray, University of Utah and other agencies know the importance of these studies, but the negative statistics may lead most families (we never thought it would "happen to our family," either) to feel that their son (or daughter) is out of harm's way because he or she doesn't fall into those categories, i.e. physical abuse, trouble with the law, scholastic problems, etc. Most psychiatrists will agree that victims of suicide are often individuals who are sensitive, with high expectations, tending to be hard on themselves and their adolescent failures and shortcomings.Many are suffering from depression (the "psychiatric disorder"), which is a common occurrence in teenagers. Depression is difficult many times to identify in teens because this is often a time of moodiness. Some suicidal teens are involved in drugs but more so as a means of self-medication to deal with emotional pain, rather than for recreation; this only exacerbates their problems.
In our zealousness to teach our youths to "choose the right" or "be the best," etc., we often forget to say "if you make a mistake, we can deal with it together and make it through."
Since teens tend to be impulsive, we urge parents to keep all guns locked away from all youths; to act on "gut instincts" of unrest in their teens' lives and seek help. Life can be hard, but the ramifications of teen suicide are far (and long) reaching - a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
Jesse and Dyan Harris
Don and Dian Olsen
Wally and Cathy Larrabee