Teen Suicide Prevention

Teen Suicide Prevention is an important topic to discuss. The Tempe, Arizona, community was rocked in May of 2015 when Corona del Sol High senior, Marcus Wheeler, took his own life.

Teen Suicide Prevention

“I Want My Life 3 Months Ago Back”

Wheeler used social media to express his frustrations.

The week before his suicide he tweeted, “life has fallen apart in front of my own eyes and its all my fault.”

Within 24 hours of his suicide, he tweeted “i want my life 3 months ago back” and “help.”

On the day of the suicide, he tweeted, “No motivation to do anything.” Later, he wrote, “There is going to be a suicide in the school right now.”

Then, he shot himself.

Teen Suicide: All Too Common

This tragic death is horrible situation for family, friends and the school, and unfortunately situations like this occur in the US almost every day.  There is one suicide in the US every 13 minutes, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).  Suicide is the second largest cause of death of young people ages 15-24.

In Arizona, the percentage of teens who injured themselves while attempting suicide almost doubled in the decade between 2003 and 2013. According to the 2013 Youth Risk Behavioral Survey, 22 percent of 9th grades in Arizona have thought about taking their own lives in the previous 12 months.

It’s important that young people get the help that they need before it’s too late!

The Warning Signs

Hindsight is always 20/20.  Looking back at Wheeler’s timeline on Twitter, we now see some warning signs.

It’s not uncommon for people who are planning to take their own life to throw off warning signs that they’re suicidal. It’s important that friends and family members recognize such signs and act accordingly.

If you’re concerned that somebody you know might be contemplating suicide, look for these types of behaviors:

  • Withdrawal – Was the person at one time more sociable? Did he or she like to go out and have a great time but now seems to be isolated and prefers to stay alone? Further, is the person’s solitary confinement without explanation? If so, then there’s likely a significant level of depression that’s causing the change in behavior. Talk to the individual to find out what’s happened.
  • Relationship Problems – Although relationship problems are a rite of passage during your youth, they can also cause people to have suicidal thoughts. That’s what happened with Marcus Wheeler, after all. If the individual seems to be overly distraught because of a failed relationship, start offering some words of encouragement and lend a listening ear.
  • Academic Failures – It may be that the person you’re thinking about was once a 4.0 student. Now, he or she is getting C’s and D’s. That’s a telltale sign that there’s been some type of shakeup and that the person doesn’t care anymore. Intervene politely.
  • Rebellion – It’s not exactly unusual for young people to exhibit some level of rebellion. However, if it seems out of character for the person you’re thinking about, then offer a helping hand.
  • Unusual Gift-Giving – If someone is giving away his or her possessions as though they won’t be needed anymore, you should take note. This is especially true if the items that are given away are things that you would consider to be basic necessities.
  • Seemingly Bored – If you know somebody who, all of a sudden, seems to be frequently distracted or out of touch, then that’s clearly a sign that the person is in some kind of deep thought. Find out what’s going on in that mind with some friendly overtures.
  • Writing About Death – People who are contemplating suicide will often express a fascination with death that can be expressed in artwork or writing.
  • Running Away From Home – There are many reasons why somebody might run away from home. It doesn’t mean that the person is considering suicide. However, it could be the first step towards getting out of life in general.
  • Changes in Eating Habits – Perhaps somebody you know once had a normal, healthy appetite and now doesn’t eat nearly as much. That could be an indication of depression.
  • Personality Changes – Somebody who was once bright and bubbly and now seems quiet and reserved is throwing off a signal that he or she is dealing with an issue.
  • Slovenly Appearance – If somebody who used to dress to look great is now unconcerned about his or her appearance, then it’s clear that some level of apathy has set in. That could lead to suicide.
  • Talk of Suicide – As with Marcus Wheeler, sometimes people will just come right out and say that they want to kill themselves. If you hear that kind of talk, take it seriously.

It’s a tragedy that nobody was able to help save the life of Marcus Wheeler. This is why teen suicide prevention needs to be discussed more. But maybe we can learn from his situation and help others who may be exhibiting similar actions.

If you are a friend, parent or teacher of a young person that you suspect is having thoughts of suicide, the first step is to understand the warning signs of suicide.

Download the free wallet card about the Warning Signs of Suicide. Read these tips about How to Be Helpful To Someone Who is Threatening Suicide.

There is help for young people who are thinking of suicide.  Call us! 602-997-2880.


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