In front of everyone I was a varsity volleyball athlete with the newest clothes and shoes. I made sure to smile and keep a good front when inside I was lifeless.
I was done with the façade. Wearing a mask to make everyone around me feel comfortable was exhausting. I didn't believe my problems were big enough to warrant concern up until now. I gazed at the six anonymous pills, three small white ones, two blue and one yellow.
"You don't have to go through this anymore," I thought.
I ran to the bathroom and let the faucet run until my plastic cup was full. I caught a glimpse of my reflection. Pain was written all over my face.
I went back into my room, picked up the pills and turned off the lights. I was scared, but If I did this quick everything would be over soon.
The pills melted in my hand now soaked from my tears when I swallowed them whole and followed with a quick gulp of water.
"Forgive me Jesus," I said aloud.
I wrapped myself in a white quilt covered in bold red hearts (it was my favorite) unsure of what I was waiting on. A few minutes later my eyelids got heavier until they were completely closed.
I woke up in the same clothes I had fallen asleep in. It was still dark outside. I hopped up and turned on my bedroom lights frantically looking in the mirror and grabbing my face. "I am still alive," I thought, and other than two swollen eyes I felt normal. I felt my chest to see if my heart rate was abnormally beating. It wasn't. I looked at my alarm clock and it was 3:30 a.m. It was five hours after an unsure 18-year-old high school senior dealing with undiagnosed depression tried to take her life.
I was grateful.
Though I survived, thousands of teenagers do not and follow through with their suicide attempts. Research shows that suicide is the third risk of death for teens. Here are 3 ways to prevent suicide-related depression in the teen in your life.
Educate yourself and your teen about depression
Research shows of the percentage of teens dealing with depression, 30 percent never seek or receive treatment, but education can help.
Recently John Hopkins University developed an Adolescence Depression Awareness Program (ADAP), which provides parents, students and teachers with a curriculum focused on recognizing symptoms of depression and how clinical depression is diagnosed and treated. It also addresses the stigma by acknowledging and treating depression and recognizes that suicide can be a consequence of depression.
Introducing the curriculum, increased students' outreach and depression literacy.
Take the lead, talk to your teen
My suicide attempt was a final resort of months and months of retreating alone, which is the same feeling many teens feel when they are facing issues in their lives. What could have prevented my suicide attempt and many youths in the future is having an adult guidance to remind me I wasn't alone.
Even if your teen hasn't expressed depression or suicide it's important to take time to start conversation with your teen to consistently let them know they do not have to face their obstacles by themselves.
Develop and teach healthy coping skills with your teen
Depression and or any other mood disorder can be managed with the proper healthy lifestyle habits, including a healthy and balanced diet, adequate sleep, exercise and positive relationships with other people at home and at school.
Incorporating more one-on-one time with your teen practicing and developing these skills can make a significant difference in their approach to life's problems.
Examples of this could be encouraging mindfulness, focusing on positive and creative activities and learning how to express their feelings.
As kids develop into adolescents, it may be challenging for parents and guardians to recognize what they are thinking and feeling. As a teen, I did not make it easy to let the adults in my life, however, it's important for adults to remain vigilant and proactive to be able to prevent suicide-related depression.
Have you ever dealt with depression or know someone that has? Provide comments below so we can end the stigma today!
If you or your teen may have depression? Please visit our services page and learn how The Red Zone can help.