Being the third leading killer of young adults within the age range of fifteen to twenty four, next to accidents and murder; the second leading killer amongst college students, next to accidents; and the first leading killer amidst college students if one-person car accidents, or autocides, is not considered an accident, teenage suicide tolls has drastically increased since the 1950s, with its numbers tripling in the past thirty years. Defined as an act of deliberately killing one’s self intentionally, statistics show that over two million suicide attempts are conducted annually, with only five thousand being successful. As claimed by the National Center for Health Statistics, with every 100 minutes that pass, a suicide attempt has been made. According to studies in California and Kansas, one out of every ten teens questioned admitted to have made a suicide attempt. Reasons surrounding suicides include overwhelming negative thoughts, unhappiness, traumatic events, need of revenge or attention, neglection by parents which is responsible for half of suicide victims, sexual abuse, loneliness, and divorce, which is responsible for 70% of suicide attempts.
Television and music are also blamed for increasing suicide tolls. Television creates an environment in which violence and death is ordinary while music triggers suicide such as how Ozzy Osbourne’s song “Suicide Solution” triggered a 19 year old to shot himself in the head on October 1984. Race and gender may also impact suicide tolls as in the United States, suicide victims are more likely to be white than black. In 1988, 1819 white teens within the ages of 15-19 committed suicide while only 240 blacks did. Studies show that African-Americans have a stronger sense of community through surviving economic hardships and racism, which is the reason they do not commit suicide as much. Males, however, are also more likely to commit a successful suicide compared to females. In 1988, 1668 males committed suicide while only 391 females within the age range of 15-19 did. Most cultures discourage violence in females, causing females to less likely choose a violent suicide method. Men also do not express their feelings as much as females, as male considering suicide will keep his thoughts to himself while a female would usually talk to a friend or counselor to help her consider less life-risking alternatives, although more females attempt suicide. In most states, suicides are hidden.
Death certificates may not be issued for suicide victims unless a suicide note is left behind, which only covers 20-30% of suicide victims. Families often dispose suicide notes for insurance purposes. Insurance companies will not pay on life insurances for suicide victims. Authorities often do not label deaths as suicides since they do not know if a death is accidental or intentional. Take the death of Joseph Major as an example. In 1986 in Bergenfield, Major plunged 200 feet to his death from a cliff along the Hudson River. He had been heavily drinking on the cliff shortly before he fell, causing several of his friends to believe that it was not an accident. Even though authorities had no proof that his death is a suicide, logic clearly states that only a fool would be heavily drinking along the edges of a 200-foot tall cliff by the Hudson River. Events leading to suicide are like slot machines; the series of pictures pulled by the lever is unknown. Just like with suicide, the series of events pulled by each person is unknown. Each victim has their own reasons; their own causes. Whatever they are, wasting life by ending it with your own hands is not, and will never be, a good and beneficial choice.
1. Galas, Judith C. Teen Suicide. San Diego: Lucent Books, Inc, 1994. 2. Delahunty, Andrew, ed. “Suicide.” Def 2. Oxford Pocket School Dictionary, New ed. 2005.