Talking to Teens about Suicide

My alarm clock is set to play the radio at 7 a.m. on Sunday morning. That is also the time when the local community channel comes on. Usually they have program organizers on the show to promote a local charity or event. As I lay in my bed I listened to a woman talk about a walk that would raise funds for a 17 year old that had recently taken her own life and no one knew why.

Suicide. This is a topic that we don’t often talk about. It is uncomfortable and painful and we think our child would never struggle with that decision. But the reality is, it happens.

Teenagers are passionate and often ego-centric and think the whole world is going to end if things don’t go the way they planned. One of my younger cousins posted on facebook: “My life is over. My father just took away my ipod. How will I survive this car ride?”

Or another cousin recently posted, “Grounded forever.”

As adults we can laugh at this because we’ve been through it and know that teenagers are dramatic and there are bigger problems then not being able to go out or listen to your music in the car. As adults we know there are bad days, but we know, it won’t always feel like this. Tomorrow is a new day. Teenagers that are self-focused and can’t look beyond what is in front of them might not be able to think so rationally.

During mass I thought more about that woman on the radio and the pain I could hear in her voice. I thought about the teenagers that I would be teaching in confirmation class that same night and thought maybe the Holy Spirit was leading me to talk to them about the sadness of suicide.

As I prepared my notes for class I thought about how life can be hard for a teenager, especially a teen that is trying to live out his Catholic faith and is constantly different from everyone else. They want to blend in and not be ridiculed by their peers. They want to be accepted and fit in. They want to be loved.

Then it hit me. I knew how to address this difficult topic of suicide.

Look at the cross.

If you are going through hard times and having thoughts of taking your own life, know that it won’t always feel like this. It will get better. Talk to a friend, a teacher, your parents, write down what you are going through. Talk to a professional and get help.

If you feel like no one can understand your pain, look to the cross. Our God understands suffering. His heart aches for you and he wants to give you comfort.

I told them the story called Footprints in the Sand. Lord, “why when I needed you most, you have not been there for me?” The Lord replied, “The times when you have seen only one set of footprints, is when I carried you.”

Our God is with you when you suffer. Even when you feel like your life is not worth living, know that you have a purpose and your life has so much meaning.

God gave you life. When he said, thou shalt not kill, he meant your own life too. Your body is a temple, not meant to be destroyed. Your life has a purpose, of course it does! Talk to God in your pain. The Immaculate and Sacred Heart of Jesus ache for so much love of you.

  • Kelly

    “Look at the cross.” – What a powerful statement for reflection for teens who feel pressure, stress, and worry. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this difficult topic.