“Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.” Phil Donahue said these words, hoping to send a message; a message that suicide is a temporary and irreparable solution to an otherwise less than unmanageable problem. Suicide continues to be a phenomenon that no one fully understands. The rise of suicide can be directly interpreted by its precursors and their validity in newer generations such as adolescents in a time and society such as this. Suicide has moved from the realm of total taboo to a topic of increasing interest and concern for ail. Suicide, as a means of ending one's life, is not an accepted way to die in western culture. Some researchers have alluded that it may be "normal" for someone to use suicide as a means of ending one's life, and perhaps society is paying too much attention to this choice (Shneidman, 1985; Szasz, 1986). But when children begin to kill themselves, youths who are not seen by society as able to make an informed choice, the society becomes concerned. Is this decision out of: despair, depression, family circumstances or because they are copying the behaviors of others? None of these questions can be answered reliably unless we understand what motivates an adolescent to want to choose death over life.
The difference between suicide and any other cause of death is that it is self inflicted. Il
continues to trouble and appeal us because it rejects our deeply held conviction that life must be
worth living. To take a Life is a sin and against the law, but more and more there seems to be
a message that suicide is a normal means to end one' s pain and misery.
Suicidal thoughts have been found to be very common among the general population, with a greater number of suicide attempts than successes. Many individuals attempt more than once increasing their chances for success with each try. For these reasons, suicide has become a
major mental-health concern for ail. The number of people affected by one suicide is far
reaching (parents, siblings, classmates, clergy, health professionals etc.). Everyone wants an
answer to the question: Why? What desperate forces could lead someone to end their life? In
the case of adolescents, we ask, why did the adolescent not seek help for her problems? What
problems could such a young person have that is so great that the only solution is suicide?
When Jacobs (1967) looks at adolescent attempters’ social lives, long standing histories of problems from childhood to the onset of adolescence, exist. These problems, he finds, seem to escalate above and beyond those usually associated with adolescence. Furthermore, he recognizes the failure to cope with new and increasing problems which leads to the adolescent’s progressive isolation from social relationships that may be deemed meaningful.
Suicidal adolescents gradually isolate themselves from their family, friends, and peers (Jacobs 1967).
Lester (1972) speaks of how an adolescent, who, is less likely to have a social...