Suicide Prevention

Zoe Bowman, Creative Director

In a time when grades, GPA, SAT scores and acceptances letters control a young adult’s life, there is obviously an extraneous amount of pressure. Students in high school should not feel like they are experiencing a midlife crisis only when they are 17. Not every person can handle this type of pressure and these stresses. A study led by Jean Twenge, a San Diego State University psychology professor, found that five times as many high school and college students are dealing with anxiety and other mental health issues as youth of the same age did that were surveyed back during the era of the Great Depression.
With so many young adults dealing with mental health issues, often without proper care and treatment, there is no wonder why the last couple of years has seen a jump in suicides with teens. Even locally, suicide rates have risen this year. One teen, Patrick Turner, took his life on Jan. 27 2018. Turner was a student at CDM and his suicide note shed light on what experts call a new national crisis.
“So much pressure is put on kids to do good, and a lot of kids make mistakes,” Turner wrote. “One slipup makes a kid feel like the smallest person in the world.”
With many youth today feeling similar inadequacies or levels of anguish, it’s more important than ever not to shy away from the topic of mental health. In the past, it’s been taboo to discuss, and individuals in need have not received the encouragement to seek help for mental health problems. Today, teens should feel comforted in knowing how prevalent mental health disorders are among young people and that a great number of resources are available to them in school and beyond.
In the 2017 California Healthy Kids Survey, 27% of freshmen said they have feelings of chronic sadness and hopelessness while 32% of juniors related the same. This data makes sense because by the time junior year rolls around, most students are stressed about what their futures hold. Will they get into their dream schools? Will their ACT scores go up? Are their GPAs good enough? With students so focused on letters and numbers suggesting their value in life, feelings of depression are not uncommon.. With the impending pressure of dwindling college acceptance rates, students may feel as if their lives will end if they don’t get into their dream schools.
“You are looked at as a loser if you don’t go to college or if you get a certain test score or GPA. If failure happens it’s something like not going to college or not getting an A,” Turner wrote.
That’s why it’s important to change our perspectives regarding how a competitive culture impacts students of today. Students shouldn’t feel discouraged if they have to work a little harder than the other students in their class or if they get a B on a test while their friend gets an A. Instead of a culture that brings shame to the people who still try hard but may not receive the best grades, we should encourage and praise the hours of hard work.
“The Harvard Longitudinal Study, over the course of 80 years studied what makes people happy in life. They found that it wasn’t your health, your successes or accomplishments, but rather people’s perception of having healthy and meaningful relationships. When students feel upset or discouraged based on their grade it is important to engage in healthy and positive coping strategies and also reach out to their support network,” said LBHS student support specialist Alex Aronson.

There is so much more to life than AP test scores and college acceptances or deferral letters. Instead of focusing on taking a full load of AP classes for how it will look to colleges, take the classes that you are actually interested in. Don’t cause yourself extreme stress and sadness for a higher GPA. Go try a new hobby. Take an art class. Do some yoga. Because life doesn’t end if you don’t measure up to a standard that has never defined you in the first place.