I am a Queen’s University graduate and my eldest son is currently studying at Queen’s. We were shocked and saddened to hear of the recent deaths last week of two Queen’s students; in fact, there have been 6 deaths on the campus this year. Even though my son and I didn’t know the students personally, we feel a sense of loss. Queen’s is a tight knit community so when tragedy strikes, the whole community feels it. What is particularly shocking is three of the deaths were suicides. How could young people in the prime of their lives with promising futures ahead of them commit suicide? Were they overwhelmed with the academic and peer pressures and the stress of being away from home? Personally, I think the answer is more complex. The reasons behind a teen's suicide or attempted suicide are complicated. What leads one person to commit suicide while others are able to find the support they need through their family, friends and professional help? Is the difference related to the availability of counseling services? OR is it based on the ability of the individual to ask for help? Could people around these students have intervened and helped them find the support they desperately needed? The father of one of the boys who committed suicide said his son had stopped going to classes, withdrawn from his peers and spent more time in his room with his door closed. Over Christmas, the young man told his parents of some academic stress but assured them he could handle the pressures on his own. My husband and I are very worried about our youngest son. He used to be extremely social and outgoing, however, the onset of Tourettes and Bipolar changed his behaviour dramatically. Today, he spends most of his time after school in his room playing electronic games and watching television. He still attends school (most days) and is planning to go to University next year (he was accepted in to his first choice of university). Will he be able to cope with the academic pressures? Should he defer his acceptance for a year and continue to receive professional help (we are paying for him to meet regularly with a therapist)? OR will the change and independence associated with university life be good for him? Currently he hates high school where he is regularly teased about his tics (Tourettes). He is looking forward to studying his own area of interest (Gaming Programming) instead of subjects like Philosophy and English. He is excited about living in the university campus residence. I wish I had a crystal ball to help us find clarity in this situation. We are trying to support our son as best as we can but the solutions are obscure. In other words, I certainly don’t have all of the answers but I do know this; mental health issues are becoming more prevalent in our society. Depression amongst teens is on the rise. It’s an uncomfortable topic but we need to talk openly about these concerns in order to find answers. Do you know someone whose behaviour has changed drastically recently; for example, he/she has become withdrawn and uncommunicative? Have you tried to talk to them about seeking help? Fact: Suicide is relatively rare among children but the rate of suicides and suicide attempts increases tremendously during adolescence. Suicide is the third-leading cause of death for 15- to 24-year-olds, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), surpassed only by accidents and homicide.
Share this post