As children group up they are eager to reach adolescence. From middle childhood they look forward to all the newfound freedoms that are typically associated with their teenage years, yearning to be more adult-like. However, while the child is looking forward to the freedom, he/she most often does not realize that adolescence also brings about many changes that can be emotionally taxing even to the most mature or intelligent child. During this time the child’s relationship with the family may become complicated, the child will be introduced to new issues and academic pressure will increase.
While many children will be able to make the transition from middle childhood to adolescence seamlessly and do quite well handling the new, more complex adult-like issues that they will face, there are some who will not fare as well. Parental relationships may become strained, peer pressure may become too great, and academics may become overwhelming, culminating in negative life events; there are many issues such as these that can bring about depleted self-esteem and depression in an adolescent which can then lead to larger issues such as substance use/abuse and even suicide.
Within, the issues of self-esteem, depression, substance buse, and suicide will be discussed along with what roles parents play in the equation of these issues which leave a trail of devastation and destruction. Suicide Suicide is the third leading cause of death amongst youths between the ages of 15 and 24. Youth between this age group have an alarming high rate of suicide attempts. For every 100 to 200 attempts made there is one suicide that actually takes place (Caruso, K. , 2005). In 2004, there were 29,251 suicides committed amongst Caucasians, yet only 3,188 for other races combined; 2,019 for African-Americans and 1,169 for Others, giving a combined total of 32,439 (Caruso, K. 2005).
According to statistics gathered from suicide. org (Caruso, K. , 2005) 4,316 youth between the ages of 15-24 committed suicide in 2004, which equals one adolescent dying approximately every 122 minutes, or two hours, at their own hands. Of these 4,316 were: 3,610 Caucasians, 465 African-Americans, and 241 Other – percentages of 83. 6, 10. 7, and 5. 6 respectively. However, the gap between African-Americans and Caucasians may begin to narrow as African-American adolescents are increasing the number of serious attempts made (Brenner, Krug, & Simon, 2000).
When negative things increase in an adolescent’s life and they feel that there is no way out, the thought of dying may enter the adolescent’s mind. Adolescents who have low self-esteem and suffer from depression may have an increase with the suicidal ideations. When an adolescent has thoughts of suicide they may not really want to die. They want the pain that they are experiencing to go away. If the adolescent does not reach out to someone for help these thoughts could turn into actual suicide attempts. Generally when a person attempts suicide they cut themselves or take pills.
Usually they are in a place where they can be found by someone. In cases such as this the person is crying out for help. The person may want help but just be afraid to talk to someone about what is actually going on. Most people who have suicidal ideations never actually make suicide attempts. Unless there is some type of intervention put in place the adolescent who actually attempted suicide and was unsuccessful may make other attempts. This person will most likely need to be hospitalized for safety. Teenagers who consider suicide are looking for a means to an end.
Suicide is a way to end all the troubles and pain that the teen may be facing. These thoughts of suicide generally don’t just happen overnight. The teen usually has experienced some type of depression or traumatic event. These are risk factors that could cause the teen to contemplate suicide. Risk factors are pressures or stressors that can cause the teen to act upon their feelings. Teenagers can be vulnerable to the risk factors when they are going through a hard time. The teenagers are still developing and may be uncertain about a lot of things. The teen may have faced many disappointments and have no sense of direction for their life.
Suicide is a very serious problem for adolescents today. When looking at the girl-boy factor, girls attempt suicide three times more than boys. Boys are four times more likely to complete the act of suicide. Boys generally have more lethal means of death including using hand guns or hanging themselves. Girls generally use methods such as overdosing on medication or cutting themselves. It is important that adolescents have at least one person that they are able to talk to when they are having any type of problems. When a child is silently suffering through pain it may cause them to have all kinds of negative thoughts.
When they have someone that they can talk the problems out with the chances of them attempting suicide would most likely decrease. Parents should pay close attention to their adolescent’s moods and behaviors. If something seems to be off with the way they are behaving the parents need to try to find out what is going on. There could be some things going on that the parents may not be aware of. It is important that parents establish open communication with their children. The child needs to know that they can speak up when there is a problem that they may not be able to handle on their own.
For single parents it is extremely important to have constant open communication because they may already have a challenge due to the other parent being absent. The child may feel additional stress because they don’t have the other parent there. Self-Esteem Self-esteem is the way that a person views themselves. This view can be in a positive or negative way. The NASE(National Association for Self-Esteem) defines self-esteem as “The experience of being capable of meeting life’s challenges and being worthy of happiness” (Reasoner, 2004); the keywords being capable and worthy.
There are a number of determining factors of self-esteem. These factors seem to change throughout life. Generally females have lower self-esteem than males. Family relationships seem to be the cause of lower self-esteem in both males and females. When children reach the age of adolescence they still want attention from their parents. Most children want their parents to be involved with things in their life. Despite some of the things most adolescence may say around their peers, they want their parents to discipline them and make them a better person.
This writer works with various adolescents and has witnessed firsthand the need and desire for their parents to be involved. One particular adolescent male would do anything to get the attention of his mother. He just wanted her to notice him more. The only time he seemed to get attention from his mother was when he was getting in trouble. He was already having issues of low self-esteem because his father was absent from the family and he felt that maybe he was responsible for his father not being there. This caused him to act out in the home as well as in school.
When parents take the time to talk to their children and teach them how to make better decisions, this gives the child some reassurance that they care. Even when the child does something wrong the parents should take the time to explain to the child why their actions may have been wrong. Genuine care and concern shown by parents has been linked to higher self-esteem (Parker & Benson, 2004), but when adolescents do not receive the love and support desired, the result is lowered self-esteem. For most females appearance is another factor that causes low self-esteem.
Many adolescent girls wan to look like the models that are on the cover of magazines. They want to have the perfect body image. This can cause other problems with the adolescent girls when they think that they are larger than they should be. They compare themselves to these images they see in the magazines and don’t feel that they are attractive unless they are thin. Some of these girls will do whatever is necessary to achieve that look no matter what the dangers may be. For most males delay in physical development tends to be a cause of lower self-esteem.
Many males feel that if there is a delay in their development they may not be able to play a certain sport in school. This will make the male feel that he is inadequate in comparison to his peers. The male also may feel that he will have trouble getting dates because he may not appear to be mature in comparison to his peers (Feldman, 2006). Another source of low self-esteem for males as well as females includes academic achievement. If a student is not excelling in their academics it causes some adolescents feel that they are inadequate.
They feel that they have to be competitive with their peers in order to make better grades. When an adolescent has academic problems in school some of them tend to want to give up because they feel that they will not be able to keep up with the peers in the class who may be doing well. When self-esteem is left untreated it may cause other serious issues. Low self-esteem can cause a person to develop depression. It can also lead a person to substance se and/or abuse. Adolescents have a higher level of self-esteem when they have parental support.
When adolescents only receive support from their parents they may begin to use alcohol and other drugs such as marijuana (Parker & Benson, 2004). Adolescents who have low self-esteem are at greater risk for poor physical health, mental health and reduced economic prospects (Tresniwski et al, 2006). These adolescents were adolescents were also more likely to be involved in the legal system regardless of gender, economic status, and mental status (Tresniewski et al, 2006). Depression seems to be a common link to low self-esteem with males and females.
Depression There are several different things that could cause a teenager to take their life. The most common factor is depression. Feelings of hopelessness and anxiety, along with feelings of being trapped in a lie that they can’t handle on all contributors to the adolescent wanting to commit suicide. Most of them feel that suicide is the only way to solve the problem and they are looking for a way to escape. Depression is more than just feeling down for one day. Generally when depression begins it seems as though the person is having down days for years.
Depression can affect many aspects of your life including sleep, eating, thinking patterns and activities that the person normally would do. There are many different types of depression. The most common types of depression prevents a person from being able to function normally. In order for a person to be diagnosed with major depression the symptoms should be present daily for most of the day or the entire day for at least two weeks. Dysthymia is also known as chronic depression is characterized by long term depressed moods for two years or more.
A person is usually not disabling by this type of depression and it is less severe than major depression. There are various symptoms of depression that include feelings of hopelessness, persistent sadness, loss of interest in hobbies, fatigue, irritability, insomnia and problems with making decisions. The adolescent may begin to isolate themselves from others. When the child comes home they may begin to go to their room and close the door and stay there for hours without coming out. Their eating patterns may change which could consist of them not eating at all or compulsively overeating.
There could also be a sudden drop in their grades, they may begin to withdraw from their friends or being to stay awake and night and then wan to sleep during the day. When a teen is suffering from depression it often makes problems seem overwhelming and unbearable. Often times the root of the adolescent wanting to commit suicide is due to depression. The adolescent becomes desperate and think that there is no other way out. When an adolescent has discord within the home that could contribute to the adolescent being depressed. There could be problems with the parents arguing and the child as to be the mediator between the parents.
This could put a great amount of stress on the adolescent. The teen may begin thinking that they are the blame for the problems that are going on in the home. When parents are dealing with their problems they are less likely to pay attention to what is going on with the child. There are many warning signs of suicide with teens who are depressed. The teen may express feelings of hopelessness for their future, talk like no one cares; they may begin got give away favorite possessions or even just make the statement that they are going to kill themselves. If a child displays any of these signs medical attention should be taken right away.
This is a very serious matter and should be taken very seriously. When an adolescent suffers from depression they are at a high risk of suicide. Depression can be caused by genetics. There was an 18% increase of adolescents at risk of major depressive disorder in a study that compared to parents who suffer from an affective disorder and those who don’t (Hoffman, Baldwin, & Cerbone, 2003). Major Depression constitutes a greater risk for attempted suicide than issues within the home or substance abuse; however these issues along with substance abuse were found as significant factors (Kelly, Lynch, Donovan, & Clark, 2001).
Substance Use Adolescents who are depressed and have low self-esteem are at risk for developing issues with alcohol and drugs. The adolescent may feel that they are escaping the problems they may be facing by numbing themselves with alcohol and with drugs. Most teens start out using marijuana and drinking alcohol. Some are able to experiment and stop or continue to occasionally use without significant problems. There are others who will develop a dependency and possibly begin using more dangerous drugs.
Some physical warning signs of teenage alcohol and drug use include red glazed eyes, fatigue and a cough that last for a long period of time. Emotional signs include sudden change in their mood, depression, low self-esteem and no interest in anything. The youth may start arguments with their family and begin breaking rules at home. In school they may have a lot of absents from school, have a negative attitude about school and begin getting lower grades. The adolescent may begin having problems with the law and start hanging around different crowd of friends.
Conclusion Adolescence is a period that most children look forward to. It is also a time when a lot of changes occur. Many adolescents go through a period where they are pressured by their peers. They want to fit in with their peer group so sometimes they may do things just to fit in with the group. No child wants to go through ridicule by their peers and be considered the outsider. During this transition period the adolescents are going through so many different changes. They are trying to find out who there are and want to be.
That can be difficult for the adolescent when they are also trying to fit in with their peers. Adolescence is a serious problem that is taking the lives of many children. All children want to feel that they are wanted and loved. Parents have to be aware of what is going on with their children. The love and support should start at home. There should be an open line of communication between the parents and the children. Most mistakes are made when the adolescent is confused and tries to make decisions on their own without proper guidance. Most children want the approval of the parents.
An adolescent is more likely to develop low self-esteem and depression when there is no support from the parents. Once a child begins to develop lows self-esteem and depression the door is open for various things to happen. It is imperative that the parents take on a more active role in noticing what is going on with the adolescent. There are sometimes many signs that the adolescent may be displaying but because the parent is not noticing what is going on with the child they may not pick up on those signs. Parenting teens can be challenging for many parents.
An important thing for parents to remember when they discipline their children is to give them a consequence that is appropriate for the behavior displayed. They should also give the child positive reinforcement for good behaviors. When a child gets punished and never gets any praise for the good things they do it can make the child feel worthless and inadequate. Parents should also not force the child to follow a path that they wanted to follow. They should not try to relive their teenage years through their children. If the parent ever suspects that the child is depressed about something they should listen to the concerns.