Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Teen Suicide and the Power of Positive Thinking (With Guest Blogger Jim)

Today we get another insightful post from my old Army buddy, Guest Blogger Jim, who is originally from Michigan.

Jeff and Laura Edwards lost their son Chase, top, in 2003 to suicide when he was 12. Since then they’ve become suicide education advocates, and helped create the Chase Edwards Act, which encourages schools to hold suicide prevention programs.

I was looking at the Detroit Free Press earlier in the week, when I saw a headline for an article about teen suicides. The reporter was wondering about high teen suicide rates in the state, and went on to talk about a law Michigan passed encouraging early intervention or counseling in the schools.

Just by reading the headline, and having lived there, I was able to come up with the correct answer to the higher-than-national suicide rate. A doctor of psychiatry at a Michigan children's hospital blames it on homelessness, a lack of jobs, depression and hopelessness.

I knew that was going to be the answer before I ever read the article. How, you ask? Because as a kid growing up all I ever heard was negativity. The economy is bad, the schools are bad, the roads are bad, the hunting is bad. You name it; if it was shitty Michigan had it, twice. Back then we called the Red Wings the Dead Wings. The Lions are actually worse now than when I was growing up.

While there is no denying that Michigan has hit a shitty spot on the trail, I still believe it's possible to grow roses there. You don't have to stay there to make a living; move. I did and 17 years later I’m still holding the same job, with no layoffs. If you work for a car company or one of their satellite suppliers, sooner or later you will be out of a job. You stay, hoping it won't happen to you, but everyone gets bit eventually. You people stay ‘cause you like the 3 weeks paid vacation every year as the factories retool for the next model year. That shit is over with Obama running the show, no matter how much money and votes the UAW throws his way.

Teach the kids to be independent thinkers, not followers (Since Dad and Uncle Joe worked for GM, so will I). That starts in school, too. Everything is team-oriented, which is okay for tug-o-war, but not so hot for the rest of your life. Yeah, you have to be able to work with others, but the coach is going to put the best linebacker on the field or center on the ice. Do you get to take anyone else with you on job interviews?

I’d love to know just what the homeless rate is in Michigan. I feel this is just another liberal attempt to make people think things are worse than what they truly are.

The kid the story was about hung himself in an upstairs closet as his dad prepared dinner. While sad, I gotta say the pictures sure don't lead me to believe they have ever been homeless or anything. There was nothing, they said, that made anyone in the boy’s circle of family and friends to lead anyone to believe he was depressed. Not to speak ill of the dead, or pour salt into wounds, but sometimes things happen in life that we just can't control. The article says nothing about if the kid was taking anti-depressants, which we know are linked to higher incidents of suicide in teens. Funny; the doctor of psychiatry, who probably prescribes lots of that stuff, never mentioned it as a cause.

Hopelessness? Is that like teen angst? No one cares, nothing matters, and no one understands me, on and on. Just a guess, but kids: get interested in something or several somethings. Stop veggin' out, alone, in your room, and go do something. Hunt, fish, bike, canoe. Go to church, go out for the team, GET A JOB, and buy a car.

You know, during survival training you are taught to accomplish something, however small, everyday. You know why? To keep you from dwelling on your situation. People who have a purpose don't usually just curl up and die. Stop waiting for something to happen to give your life meaning; go make your life meaningful. Sometimes depression is a chemical imbalance in the body, but sometimes you're just bored.

I guess the big message here is, we’ve got to stop babying our kids and tell them to man up, in my opinion. Don’t push it on the schools; they are our kids, so let’s fix 'em ourselves. Teach them to be self-reliant, self-starters, independent thinkers, and tell them it's okay to be the best. Not assholes, but hard workers. A dose of that might bring down the suicide rate.

I'll leave you with two of my favorite quotes, although I don't know who exactly they are attributed to.

Tough times don't last; tough people do, remember?
Every time you fall, pick something up.

What are your thoughts on this? I’d love to get some feedback.

Allow MojoSteve to provide the opening feedback.

Your first quote is from Gregory Peck. It was also paraphrased as the title of a book by Reverend Robert H. Shuller. Your second quote is from Oswald T. Avery. He was one of the first molecular biologists and was a pioneer in immunochemistry, but he is best known for his discovery in 1944 with his co-workers Colin MacLeod and Maclyn McCarty that DNA is the material of which genes and chromosomes are made.

According to a 2007 report by the Michigan Statewide Homeless Management
Information System (MSHMIS) and mihomeless.org, there are 79,940 homeless people in Michigan. That's less than 1% of the 10.1 million population. The May 2009 unemployment rate in Michigan was 14.1%, according to Michigan Labor Market Information.

And, dude, the suicide rate is kinda weirdly high not just for teens on antidepressants, but adults too…and they can cause homicidal rages in oversexed pet chimps in the Connecticut suburbs. The snap-rate is high with those drugs. How many people on Zoloft, Prozac, Ritalin, Luvox, Paxil or other tasty treats have snapped and gone on rampages, or just sunk deeper and ended it? (By the by, Ritalin is an SSRI (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor) in the same category as Prozac, Luvox, Zoloft, and Paxil.) If I recall, kids like Eric Harris (who along with Dylan Klebold killed 13 and wounded 23 at Columbine), Kip Kinkel (who killed 4 and wounded 23 at his school in Oregon), and Jeff Weise (who killed nine and then himself at his school in Red Lake, MN) were on SSRI drugs, and Brynn Hartman was on Zoloft when she killed her husband, actor Phil Hartman, and then herself.

Sure, we all wanna worry when our kids start doing things out of the ordinary beyond normal teen moodiness. But you need to openly communicate with your kid to know when they're just being a whiny Emo kid in Hot Topic eyeliner listening to sad music and reading Twilight to being a serious risk for harm to themselves and others. I spent hours being a moody shit in my room, listening to The Cure, The Smiths, and Depeche Mode, and I was fascinated with military history, but I also had a great relationship with my mom and my friends and I turned out pretty damned chipper. I channeled my moodiness into my writing and turned my interests into a great 4 years in the Army, getting focused and getting a head start on being in the Real World.

Over 600 people took a ticket to wait for up to five hours to make an unemployment claim on a Tuesday afternoon at the Michigan Unemployment Office in January 2009.

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