A seventeen-year-old girl in a neighboring suburb took a gun into a school bathroom on Friday and ended her life.
I have so many thoughts rolling through my mind about this right now, and I’m not sure any of them are going to be all that coherent, but please try and hear me out, I think this is important.
Today, the pressure that teenagers face is insurmountable.
I didn’t know this girl. At least I don’t think I did. Maybe I passed her in the aisle at Target. Maybe I sat across from her at Starbucks. Maybe I walked behind her at Oktoberfest last weekend. Did I smile at her? Did I think she was just another annoying teenager keeping me from getting my errands completed? Did I even notice her?
At first, many wondered if there was bullying, cyberbullying these days is beyond ridiculous. When I was a teenager if I did something stupid only a couple hundred kids would know about it. Which, yes, was mortifying, but once high school was over you could move on with your life. Teens these days have to worry about their every move being filmed, photographed, and going viral for the whole world to see and we all know once it’s on the internet it never goes away.
Can you imagine that pressure?
On top of it all, you have the good old pressure just to be good enough. To be pretty enough. To be smart enough. To be enough for everyone that expects everything out of you. Teachers, parents, friends, boyfriends, coaches. Everyone wants 100% from you and often that leaves you feeling like you are disappointing everyone. If you are someone who is used to giving 110%, feeling like you are letting even one of them down is often just too much to handle.
This young high school senior’s family has spoken out and said that this beautiful, well-loved, high school cheerleader was battling depression. A disease she had been struggling with for some time.
Anxiety and depression are also often things that are overlooked in teens. We expect them to snap out of their bad mood. They get grounded for their apathy when often that is a sign of something deeper going on. I’m far from an expert, but I’ve seen depression enough and I’ve dealt with extreme anxiety my whole life so I know enough to recognize signs and to know that it is easy to hide the signs too.
Depression is a dangerous disease that many teens struggle with and they are often good at hiding it, or when the signs do appear it can be brushed off as typical teen apathy, anger, mood swings, and general moody teen behavior.
What can we do?
I’m the type of person who wants to reach out. I want to do something tangible. I want to help in some way. You can research volunteer opportunities in your community. You can volunteer to help with the Crisis Text Line – www.crisistextline.org or the Suicide Prevention Lifeline – www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org
Irritability or anger
Continuous feelings of sadness and hopelessness
Increased sensitivity to rejection
Changes in appetite — either increased or decreased
Changes in sleep — sleeplessness or excessive sleep
Vocal outbursts or crying
Fatigue and low energy
Physical complaints (such as stomachaches, headaches) that don’t respond to treatment
Reduced ability to function during events and activities at home or with friends, in school, extracurricular activities, and in other hobbies or interests
Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
Impaired thinking or concentration
Thoughts of death or suicide
Complaints of pains, including headaches, stomachaches, low back pain, or fatigue
Difficulty making decisions
Excessive or inappropriate guilt
Irresponsible behavior — for example, forgetting obligations, being late for classes, skipping school
Loss of interest in food or compulsive overeating that results in rapid weight loss or gain
Preoccupation with death and dying
Sadness, anxiety, or a feeling of hopelessness
Staying awake at night and sleeping during the day
Sudden drop in grades
Use of alcohol or drugs and promiscuous sexual activity
Withdrawal from friends
10 MOST COMMON SIGNS IN ADULTS
Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. A bleak outlook—nothing will ever get better and there’s nothing you can do to improve your situation.
Loss of interest in daily activities. You don’t care anymore about former hobbies, pastimes, social activities, or sex. You’ve lost your ability to feel joy and pleasure.
Appetite or weight changes. Significant weight loss or weight gain—a change of more than 5% of body weight in a month.
Sleep changes. Either insomnia, especially waking in the early hours of the morning, or oversleeping.
Anger or irritability. Feeling agitated, restless, or even violent. Your tolerance level is low, your temper short, and everything and everyone gets on your nerves.
Loss of energy. Feeling fatigued, sluggish, and physically drained. Your whole body may feel heavy, and even small tasks are exhausting or take longer to complete.
Self-loathing. Strong feelings of worthlessness or guilt. You harshly criticize yourself for perceived faults and mistakes.
Reckless behavior. You engage in escapist behavior such as substance abuse, compulsive gambling, reckless driving, or dangerous sports.
Concentration problems. Trouble focusing, making decisions, or remembering things.
Unexplained aches and pains. An increase in physical complaints such as headaches, back pain, aching muscles, and stomach pain.
If you need help.
Text the Crisis Text Line at – 741741 and you will be connected with a live, trained crisis counselor who will listen and help guide you to a safe place.
You can call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-8255