Every day, there are around 11 teenage suicides within the UK, which means that about 3,916 die by suicide every single year, and 3,916 families are horrifically affected.
Going by the knowledge that these are teenage suicides, I would assume that this means that they are 13-18, so if they are at school for 9/10 months a year then why is no-one in those establishments noticing the signs? Is it because the teachers aren’t trained in this area? Are they not noticing a change in their pupils? Is it simply because no help is available to these pupils, or is it because they don’t know where to go, or who to talk to?
I’m not going to sugar coat it, my years of upper school weren’t easy by any means. I dealt with severe depression and anxiety, topped with a number of people bullying me at once, in every year I was there and I’d self harmed with accompanying suicidal thoughts however I was fortunate enough throughout upper school, despite my ever tumbling mental health issues, to have a number of teachers who were able to help me through my education. They would notice when I was down, and they’d notice if I was out of character, and they’d take me to another room to see if I was alright. Of course, I never told them the truth when they asked. I simply smiled, told them that I was fine, nod at whatever they had to say and then go on about my business. It was the fact that they took the time out of their day to ask, meant the entire world to me though.Just someone noticing and caring enough to ask was enough to help me on my way.
If you’re a teacher or anyone working in an environment with children/teenagers, never ever be afraid to ask them if they’re okay. Just that one simple question may safe a life. Please take them to one side and ask them how they’re doing and if one get even an the tiniest feeling that something is wrong, take it to the next level. Take it to someone higher than you so that they will be able to handle it better, as they will be trained in dealing with things like this and they will be able to get some kind of help arranged. If you find that a pupils grades are dropping then don’t shout at them, because chances are that there’s a lot more to the story than they’re letting on. Take the time out of your day to sit with them, and if they’re not understand something because the thoughts in their head keep them awake at night, sit down with them and try to help them understand the math problem that they’re struggling with or the chemistry equation that just seems like jumbled up letters and numbers to them.
If you are a student, then please seek help from your teacher or school counsellor if you have one. I would never have made it through upper school had it not been for my school counsellor. If you don’t have a school counsellor then please reach out to a teacher. I’ve had to talk to a number of my teachers just to explain what was going on, and at first, I didn’t want to. I felt as though they would judge me but they really didn’t. In fact, they sympathised with me and they understood when I had trouble putting my hand up in class because of my anxiety. They understood when I had to go home in the middle of the day, or when I just couldn’t get myself out of bed in the morning because my depression had got to so bad. They understood when I couldn’t complete all of my homework because I’d spent most of the night trying to stop myself from self harming, or spent the evening shedding tear after tear. It wasn’t easy letting them know but it helped me a lot. Some of the teachers began to reach out to me and ask if I was okay when they saw me roaming the corridors, and I never came across a teacher that put me down because of my mental health.
School can be hard to get through for anyone but when you’re suffering from a mental illness, it’s near enough impossible but always remember that someone is willing to help. You have all the support in the world surrounding you, sometimes you just have to reach out and look a little for it.