FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Preventing Adolescent’s Suicides

by

Suicides among youth have been a significant problem in many countries, but those happening in some Asian countries are a particular cause for concern. In the last few years several studies have shown that adolescents and young people in China, Japan and other Asian countries confront a large number of psychological problems that may lead them to commit suicide. Will these countries be able to curb those suicides that are becoming a mirror of societies in crisis?

In Japan, suicide is the leading cause of death among adolescents. The number of adolescents’ suicides in Japan exceeds 30,000 every year. At 24 suicides per 100,000 people of all ages, Japan has double the rate in the U.S. and three times that in the United Kingdom, representing the highest rate among developed countries. The most vulnerable group for suicide attempts and mortality are those between 15-24 years old.

Most of those who attempt suicide, both males and females, have an underlying psychiatric disorder. Among those, many of them have been diagnosed with a Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). Bullying at school, stressful lifestyles and economic problems are increasingly becoming important triggers for adolescents’ suicides in Japan.

In China, suicide is the 5th leading cause of death, and the leading cause of death among young people. It is estimated that 287,000 people –or one every two minutes- commit suicide every year in China. Ten times that number attempt it but are unsuccessful, according to the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

In 1987, Emile Durkheim, a French sociologist, was among the first to notice that there is a higher suicide rate among those individuals who are not socially integrated and don’t have family and social support. His observations may apply to many Chinese students who attempt suicide, who come from the interior to the country’s main cities and lack the support of their friends and families.

There are several causes for adolescent suicides. In many cases, those who commit suicide are afraid of performing badly in their exams. Some experts believe that in China the one-child policy could also explain the rise in young people’s suicides. Because adolescents grow up with no siblings, they are not used to dealing with difficult interpersonal problems. In many cases, they are under the combined pressures of work, study and personal problems.

Despite the extraordinary performance of the Chinese economy in recent times, many young people are unable to find jobs (or jobs according to their qualifications and experience) and enter into depression, which lies behind the high number of suicides. Many graduates are unable to find jobs, even a year later or more after they graduated.

In rural areas, where people are poorer than in the cities, there is the additional problem that most young people don’t have good access to already scarce mental health services. In addition, in rural areas there is abundant use of pesticides, which are used by many people to commit suicide. According to statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO) pesticides are used by 58 percent by people who commit suicide in rural areas in China.

The high numbers of suicides among adolescents are also related to the extreme pressure from their families to perform well in school and excel in their studies. In addition to those pressures, adolescents experience feelings of isolation and loneliness which make them prone to attempt suicide.

Is it possible to lower the high rates of adolescents’ suicides, given the complexity of the problem? I believe it is possible if parents, teachers and friends can pick up signs of distress among the young. Certain characteristics –such as depression, conduct disorders and situational crises- are associated with increased risk of suicide.

Young people may have some particular behaviors that indicate their intention to commit suicide. Among those behaviors are changes of appearance and conduct toward their friends. Others may also be making some final arrangements such as giving away priced possessions or making suicidal threats through direct or indirect statements.

Because children and adolescents spend a substantial amount of time at school under the supervision of school personnel, school staff should be trained on the importance of risk factors and warning signs of suicidal behavior. Teachers should give special classes discussing the problem of adolescents’ suicides, alerting students to the need to look for help when they feel stressful and feel unable to cope with their personal problems. At the same time, there should be increased communication among parents, teachers and school staff.

A good approach would be the creation of “Crises Prevention Teams” (CPT) made up of representatives from the students, the parents and the school administration that should be in charge of following students whose behavior raise concern. In addition, students should have easy access to effective medical and mental health resources. Through a combined and comprehensive set of actions, what is threatening to become a serious public health problem can be effectively controlled.

Dr. Cesar Chelala is an international public health consultant and the author of “Health of Adolescents and Youth in the Americas”. He is also a winner of an Overseas Press Club of America award.

Dr. Cesar Chelala is a co-winner of the 1979 Overseas Press Club of America award for the article “Missing or Disappeared in Argentina: The Desperate Search for Thousands of Abducted Victims.”

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
May 26, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Anthony DiMaggio
Swamp Politics, Trump Style: “Russiagate” Diverts From the Real White House Scandals
Paul Street
It’s Not Gonna Be Okay: the Nauseating Nothingness of Neoliberal Capitalist and Professional Class Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
The ICEmen Cometh
Ron Jacobs
The Deep State is the State
Pete Dolack
Why Pence Might be Even Worse Than Trump
Patrick Cockburn
We Know What Inspired the Manchester Attack, We Just Won’t Admit It
Thomas Powell
The Dirty Secret of the Korean War
Mark Ashwill
The Fat Lady Finally Sings: Bob Kerrey Quietly Resigns from Fulbright University Vietnam Leadership Position
John Davis
Beyond Hope
Uri Avnery
The Visitation: Trump in Israel
Ralph Nader
The Left/Right Challenge to the Failed “War on Drugs”
Traci Yoder
Free Speech on Campus: a Critical Analysis
Dave Lindorff
Beware the Supporter Scorned: Upstate New York Trump Voters Hit Hard in President’s Proposed 2018 Budget
Daniel Read
“Sickening Cowardice”: Now More Than Ever, Britain’s Theresa May Must be Held to Account on the Plight of Yemen’s Children
Ana Portnoy
Before the Gates: Puerto Rico’s First Bankruptcy Trial
M. Reza Behnam
Rethinking Iran’s Terrorism Designation
Brian Cloughley
Ukraine and the NATO Military Alliance
Josh Hoxie
Pain as a Policy Choice
David Macaray
Stephen Hawking Needs to Keep His Mouth Shut
Ramzy Baroud
Fear as an Obstacle to Peace: Why Are Israelis So Afraid?
Kathleen Wallace
The Bilious Incongruity of Trump’s Toilet
Seth Sandronsky
Temping Now
Alan Barber – Dean Baker
Blue Collar Blues: Manufacturing Falls in Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania in April
Jill Richardson
Saving America’s Great Places
Richard Lawless
Are Credit Rating Agencies America’s Secret Fifth Column?
Louis Proyect
Venezuela Reconsidered
Murray Dobbin
The NDP’s Singh and Ashton: Flash Versus Vision
Ron Leighton
Endarkenment: Postmodernism, Identity Politics, and the Attack on Free Speech
Anthony Papa
Drug War Victim: Oklahoma’s Larry Yarbrough to be Freed after 23 Years in Prison
Rev. John Dear
A Call to Mobilize the Nation Over the Next 18 Months
Yves Engler
Why Anti-Zionism and Anti-Jewish Prejudice Have to Do With Each Other
Ish Mishra
Political Underworld and Adventure Journalism
Binoy Kampmark
Roger Moore in Bondage
Rob Seimetz
Measuring Manhoods
Edward Curtin
Sorry, You’re Not Invited
Vern Loomis
Winning the Lottery is a State of Mind
Charles R. Larson
Review: Mary V. Dearborn’s “Ernest Hemingway”
David Yearsley
The Ethos of Mayfest
May 25, 2017
Jennifer Matsui
The Rise of the Alt-Center
Michael Hudson
Another Housing Bubble?
Robert Fisk
Trump Meets the New Leader of the Secular World, Pope Francis
John Laforge
Draft Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapons Unveiled
Benjamin Dangl
Trump’s Budget Expands War on the Backs of America’s Poor
Alice Donovan
US-Led Air Strikes Killed Record Number of Civilians in Syria
Andrew Moss
The Meaning of Trump’s Wall
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail