I believe that “You Matter” should be everyone’s anthem. Everyone should believe in their heart that no matter what it is that is so challenging in life, they matter and suicide is not the answer. Here is why:
You matter if …
You are American Indian/Asian/ White/Black/Native Hawaian or other
You are hispanic/ not hispanic or other
You are 99% or 1% or other
You are Male/Female or other
You are educated or not…
Does it seem like everyone qualitfies for “You Matter?” well that’s the idea. However, we want to focus on the youth because they face more challenges reaching out for help. Here are some numbers from TeacherVision
- Suicide is the third leading cause of death for teens.
- Suicide is second leading cause of death in colleges.
- For every suicide completion, there are between 50 and 200 attempts.
- CDC Youth Risk Survey: 8.5% of students in grades 9-12 reported a suicide attempt in the past year.
- 25% of high-school students report suicide ideation.
- The suicide attempt rate is increasing for youths ages 10-14.
Suicide is 100 % preventable so how do we explain these numbers? The major barrier among this particular population is the Stigma. As we grow, we are building our image, we want to make friends and feel loved and accepted in our community. However, it is not easy in our society: in addition to the many differences we create among ourselves (black/white, straight/LGBT, cute/ugly, rich/poor, etc.) we would not want to be known as “the depressed one” or “the bipolar.” Mental illnesses go unseen among the youth because we call that adolescence “the phase.” Parents are terrified by it and adolescents feel like they need to act a certain way to be normal. It is very hard to differentiate the signs of depression or other mental illnesses from teh signs of adolescence.
Joe Pantoliano, Founder and President of No kidding Me 2 couldn’t explain the situation better: “We know this is a tough fight. We know years of ingrained socialization causes people to recoil or isolate anyone with the scarlet letter of mental illness. Just saying the magic words “mental illness” can cause a deep-seated defensive reaction in many people. However, we also know that by releasing the talents of those with mental illness — by giving them the opportunity to use their outstanding artistic and intellectual skills — we will vastly improve the world.”
Our youth is smart, beautiful and it must be our duty to tell them every day and every time that “they matter.”