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May 6, 2016
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The Issue of Contagion

Contagion

Along with the previously mentioned causal factors, a common environmental risk for teens can be exposure to the suicidal behavior of others.

When a life is lost in any community for any reason, there is often a large reaction. This is true when it comes to the issue of teen suicide. Partly due to the way the mainstream media chooses to report it.
Unfortunately, this kind of attention can have unintended effects for a number of reasons. Among these is the way in which we discuss the loss. Youth who are already in a dark place may see suicide as a glamorous ending because of all the concern, sympathy and attention that the deceased teen now receives, that they never received in life.
While this sort of reaction can be soothing to parents and other grieving loved ones, it can also be a source of misplaced hope when heard by other teens that are suicidal. The large amount of positive attention supports this sort of thinking in at-risk teens and makes suicide seem like an opportunity for increased sympathy, rather than the tragedy that it is.
Thus, it is important for parents and community members to take precautions when discussing the death and avoid normalizing it in the minds of other teenagers. Of course, that’s not to say that a passive approach of “thou shalt not say” is ideal.

The best method of prevention is unquestionably a proactive one.

The suicide of one teen can become a platform to prevent the suicides of others. And it certainly should become an open space for other teens to seek help. Rather than a closed space in which like minded feelings of hopelessness can fester.
Educators, teachers, parents, and friends, should all take active steps to make resources more readily available. And should take the time to discuss with their loved ones the gravity of the issue. Along with the importance of future prevention and increased understanding.
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