Teen-age Suicide: A True Story

Are you a teen-ager contemplating suicide or the parent of one? The following case study may help you solve your problem. When I met Jill, she was sixteen years old and had been in counseling for four years. She was twelve years old when she tried to commit suicide by taking an overdose of pills. Jill was taking medication for depression and mood swings and was attending a small private school to help her cope with life.

Besides all of these helpful measures, she was still getting upset easily and over-reacting to situations. She was also missing school frequently for psychosomatic illnesses (illnesses that are caused by emotions). Jill was living with her mother, step-father and step brother. She had an older sister and brother who lived outside of the home. Her mother, Kate, a forty-four year old woman, was unhappy in her second marriage. When she called me for counseling, she was very concerned about her daughter because she was talking about suicide again.

During our first session, I asked Jill to complete the sentence, “I want to commit suicide because…” Jill responded, “I want to commit suicide because I feel trapped. I can’t be myself. I have to take care of my mother.” Then I continued, “Jill if you could be free to live your own life, would you want to live? “Yes,” she replied.

In the course of counseling numerous teen-agers, I noticed that this is a common feeling for the youngest child of parents who are having a lot of difficulties. It is interesting that even though no one directly tells the child to rescue their parents they feel obligated to do so. The mother and/or father (sometimes unconsciously) give messages to the child that it is better not to grow up because then they will have to face their personal unhappiness and marital relationship. The parents are also afraid of letting go of their roles as mother or father which have been their identities most of their adult lives.

To assist Jill, I helped her visualize and cut the ties that were unconsciously connecting her to her mother. I also used therapeutic processes to help her raise her self-esteem. At the end of the session, I asked Kate to come back into the office and encouraged Jill to share her new awareness with her mother.

Kate seemed surprised when she heard her daughter express the major reason why she wanted to die. She was also relieved and hopeful that maybe now Jill would want to live. Kate reassured her troubled daughter that she wanted her to grow up and live her own life and that she was going to be okay by herself.

In other sessions, I worked with Kate alone to help her cut the ties that she had unconsciously connected to her youngest daughter, face her unhappy relationship and build her own self-esteem.

Getting to the core of the problem resulted in immediate changes. With higher self-esteem, both Jill and Kate started to dress better and look more attractive and happier. They encouraged each other to be separate, independent people, and responsible for their own lives.

Two factors that helped Jill improve so quickly were that Kate was attending a church that taught positive thinking and she was willing to work on her own growth.

Jill soon had less psychosomatic illnesses and upsets and was able to quickly calm down if she did overact. She was no longer talking about suicide and proudly told me, “I don’t need my medication anymore.”

If you are the teen-ager contemplating suicide, you can show this article to your parents and ask them to help you to solve the problems. Or if you are the parent of a child thinking about suicide, it could be very helpful to explore the above issues and resolve them with a professional counselor.

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