Today parents of our students at South City High received a call no parent ever wants. They were informed of the suicide death of a classmate, a young male in the 9th grade. The information came to Everything South City from a parent onto our facebook page and as can be imagined, many shared their feelings of grief. Such an overwhelming sadness for our students, this young man’s friends, his teachers and all those in his life. And especially his parents, his family. We do not know what events led up to his decision, that is a personal issue within his family.
But we do know that suicide is the 10th leading cause of death with a total of 38,364 suicides in 2010. That is an average of 105 each day deaths by suicide a day. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) report that suicide is the third leading cause of death among persons aged 15-24 years and the second among persons aged 25-34 years.
This is a silent issue in our communities and something we need to talk about openly. Many think talking about it will only put ideas in minds of those who may be contemplating it, yet that is not the case. We need to talk, we need to bring this out into the open so we can save other children, other adults, and help more people realize that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Suicide doesn’t end the pain, it spreads it out to those we love, in gut wrenching waves forever.
South San Francisco High School will have grief counselors onsite this week to help students and faculty have a safe place to talk about their feelings. As adults we need to follow a similar path and listen to our kids. Invite them to have the conversation, ask them questions and listen without being judgmental. Not all of our youth will have the opportunity to discuss this with grief counselors, and some may not feel comfortable. And many will not find the words until a week or more afterwards.
Brace for powerful emotions
A loved one’s suicide can trigger intense emotions. For example:
- Shock. Disbelief and emotional numbness might set in. You might think that your loved one’s suicide couldn’t possibly be real.
- Anger. You might be angry with your loved one for abandoning you or leaving you with a legacy of grief — or angry with yourself or others for missing clues about suicidal intentions.
- Guilt. You might replay “what if” and “if only” scenarios in your mind, blaming yourself for your loved one’s death.
- Despair. You might be gripped by sadness, loneliness or helplessness. You might have a physical collapse or even consider suicide yourself.
You might continue to experience intense reactions during the weeks and months after your loved one’s suicide — including nightmares, flashbacks, difficulty concentrating, social withdrawal and loss of interest in usual activities — especially if you witnessed or discovered the suicide.
Adults are not above needing a listening ear either so please make it a point to find a place for you to vent. Did you know men over 75 years of age have the highest suicide rates? Suicide by our military, active and veterans is at an all time high and considered an epidemic by many. Everything South City did a write up last September during National Suicide Prevention Week and there is much information HERE as well. The National Suicide Prevention Program is open for all who need to talk, as well as those who feel they may want to end their life. Call them for help in talking with your teenager or other family members or friends. The ‘Suicide Topic’ is too big for one person to handle alone. And you don’t have to.
Please write this number down, put it into your mobile, pass it onto others 273-TALK;
We all need a listening ear so forge trusting relationships now that will support you when the need is there. From your doctor, clergy, family member or friend, we must reach out and connect to keep us all strong. The stronger we are, the better we can be there for others as this following comment shows:
Hey everyone around this time last year I was planning my suicide. I actually followed thru with it later on last March. I survived but it took a while to recover but I did. Well two days ago a neighbor of mine killed herself the same way I had planned to and it brought home the fact that without the love and support that I received from family, friends and all of you I would not be here so thank you all. Keep helping others.
-Derrick Jones to National Suicide Prevention Wall
A message from SSFUSD Superintendent Hogan