Many of us knew someone—-a friend, a neighbor or an employee who has shown the warning signs of suicide, but didn’t know how to help him or her. There is a need for some kind of program where someone in crisis can go for help, Didi Hirsch Suicide Prevention Center in Los Angeles is one center, but there should be many more across the country. Colleges have counselors who try to help students who are depressed, but unfortunately, some of the colleges will not notify parents of such students if the student does not want his/her parents to know about their depression.
Suicide prevention has a great deal of meaning to me because I’ve been exposed to a few people who have committed suicide, or who have attempted suicide. I am very aware how much the families of these people have suffered because of it.
A neighbor, who is also a family friend, had recently had a suicide in their family. It was excruciatingly painful for them when they received the suicide news from the college where their teen age daughter was attending. She had hung herself!!!! The unfortunate part about this situation is that when they were informed about the suicide, the family was told that this young girl had gone to the school counselor and told her of her deep feelings of depression. She made a strong demand, telling the counselor not to inform her family about her depression. The counselor complied with her wishes. The family was very disturbed that they were not informed about her deep depression. The reason for not calling the family about their daughter’s emotional situation is because as strange as it may seem, there is a rule that whatever goes on between the counselor and the client, it is considered strictly confidential. Presently, there is news that officials are trying to change this rule because there has been so much tragedy that could have been prevented . It is believed that if someone close to the client was aware of the situation, the suicide could have been prevented.
The most frightening news in my younger days was when I got a phone call from my nephew telling me “mom” is in the hospital. His voice was so shaky, it scared me. “Why is she in the hospital?” I asked. “She tried to commit suicide,” was his answer. My sister had taken a massive dose of sleeping pills. When my nephew came home from school, he had found her lying on her bed in an unconscious state. Thank heavens, she was rushed to the hospital just in time to save her life!!!! The reason for her attempt to end her life was due to months and months of severe depression.
It seems to be that there are more and more young girls between the ages of 10 to 14 years of age who express their feelings of wanting to end their lives. This disturbs me because I have a dear friend whose daughter is in this age group and indicates her feelings in a very direct way.
It bothers me to learn that even when high school students discuss their wishes of suicide to their counselors, the parents are not notified about this situation . . Hopefully, there will be some strong rules whereby parents are able to be informed about their child’s problems so that they can take the necessary steps in preventing their child’s suicide wish. I also hope that there will be more centers for individuals to go for help.
While working at the UCLA Neuropsychiatrical Division for teenagers, I have become very aware of how many teenagers who are suicidal or have attempted suicide. It is very frightening to hear this, but on the other hand, I am glad they are getting help. I do see an improvement in most of these teenagers after they have completed their treatments and are ready to go back home.