October 30, 2016
Dear Future President,
Hello, my name is Ashley Dunlap. I am a sophomore in high school and I have a desire to address a current issue in American society that applies to American teenagers and young adults. Teen suicide is a significant issue in our culture, and sadly, not many American adults try hard to cure the problem. Teen suicide is only focused on deeply if someone actually commits suicide. It is almost like our culture doesn't expect for someone to commit suicide, but it most definitely happens. While suicide is rare among children, the rate of suicide and suicide attempts increase greatly among teens and young adults. I realize that the government is trying to prevent suicide with prevention organizations, and a suicide prevention phone number exists that anyone can use to call for help. With the prevention methods the government currently provides, some American citizens believe that the current methods are working because they haven’t heard about any recent suicides. Others believe that the methods aren't working because they realize that the rate of teen suicides has increased over time. Suicide is the third-leading cause of death in the age range of 15-24, meaning it is quite common.
Personally, I believe teen suicide should be supported and focused on more because the problem is going to get worse if it is not dealt with. Society needs to stop shunning teen deaths and needs to start promoting new suicide prevention methods effectively. Society needs to start talking about suicide more openly.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in five teenagers in the U.S. deem themselves serious about considering suicide, and approximately 1,700 minors die due to suicide each year. 1,700 is a big number, and every life lost is a tragedy. This number is very likely to increase if officials that work to prevent suicide don't work effectively to reduce the suicide rate.
Both the CDC and the National Mental Health Association (NMHA) point out that the rate of teen suicides have tripled since 1960. Imagine 50 years from now that the teen suicide rate has tripled once again; that will show that the suicide scenario becomes horribly worse over time. The statistics also show that teen suicide has been happening for over 50 years, and has presumably become worse because the prevention methods in society right now are not working.
An article published in 2014 on www.centerforhealthjournalism.org gives a long description using syntax and creative vocabulary of why the current anti-suicide prevention methods are miserably failing.
“Suicide can not be reduced through awareness advertising and public relations
Every suicide is a tragedy for the individual, their family, and the community. Many of the truly mental illness related suicides could be prevented if persons with mental illness were provided care. Instead of doing that, the mental health industry’s main tool in reducing suicide takes the form of public service announcements, brochures, hotlines, and speeches targeted to the general population. For example, in 2012, the California mental health industry banded together to spend $32 million in public funds for a TV, radio, billboard, online, mobile and print advertising campaign targeted at the general public to reduce suicide. (California Mental Health Services Authority 2012). But those charged with overseeing the funds, refuse to measure rates of suicide to see if the funds are having an impact. Instead they measure tangential issues like, “attitudes,” and number of presentations made. This money is wasted.
There is little scientific evidence media campaigns reduce suicide and mounting evidence they don’t.”
This quote from the article proves why the current suicide prevention method of spreading awareness with social media ads and campaigns are not effective. The method is not working because the authority figures who should oversee the funds are not measuring the rates of suicide to test out if the prevention strategies are working. They are instead focusing more on the number of presentations and the attitudes, which both should be the least of their concerns. If authorities want to promote suicide prevention through awareness, worrying about the suicide rate and the effectiveness of the strategy more than the number of presentations, should be a requirement.
Future President, with all the depressing stories and suicide statistics, I hope you will come to the realization that teen suicide is a topic that people should work harder to prevent and pay attention to. In addition to allocating funds to programs that spread anti-suicide awareness through the internet and public announcements, the government also needs to allocate funds to middle schools and high schools across the United States. The funds will allow schools in the U.S. that don’t already have an after-school suicide prevention club, to have one. The presence of this club in every school should be mandatory so there is always help available where kids spend so much of their time. The club will be an in-school support group where students who are depressed or feel suicidal can go to seek help. A support club run by the school will be easier for students to know about, and easier for them to access because it is in their school. The in-school support group will be a free and accessible opportunity for specific students who need to seek help. Another solution is that the government should allocate funds to every middle school and high school in the United States and those funds will be for the school staff to have access to anyone who knows a lot about how to prevent suicide and can help out suicidal students. School staff will have access and money to contact and reach out to mental health specialists, therapists, psychiatrists, and hospital workers that will be able to meet the needs of a suicidal student. The awareness through social media and public announcements should continue, but there needs to be more effective solutions than just awareness. The solutions need to happen not after a youth attempts or commits suicide; they need to happen before the youth attempts or commits suicide.
There are a lot of possible prevention strategies to help the issue of increasing teen suicide, the country just needs to know how suicide can be prevented with the help of the government. If the solutions are enforced, suicide rates should drop. A drop in the rate of teen suicides will let the country know that the new strategies are working. Future President, I hope that you will take my suggestions and come to the realization that the topic of teen suicide needs be to be more focused on, and we can’t afford to lose any more young lives. There need to be more programs put into place to help provide solutions to this very important issue and they need to be funded by the government to ensure every school has them in place. Thank you for your time and consideration.