Youth Suicide-Why Are Kids Killing Themselves and How Can We Help Them?

Scared, anxious, overwhelmed, alone, stupid-these are just some of the emotions our kids feel every day.  Youth suicide is an epidemic in this country.  Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death in youth 10-18 years old.  To put that into perspective, more kids die from suicide than from Cancer, Heart Disease, AIDS, birth defects, pneumonia, and influenza COMBINED.  We, as a nation, need to figure out why kids are killing themselves and how we can help them.


youth suicide


The Disturbing Statistics

(Data is based on CDC Statistics) In 2014, 2,262 kids, age 9-19, successfully committed suicide.  428 of those kids were 9-14 (middle school age.)  What’s even more shocking is in that same year, there were 120,990 incidents of self harm in kids age 9-19.  36,857 of those incidents involved 9-14 year olds.  These statistics are shocking and heartbreaking at the same time.  Something has to be done….


Why Are Kids Killing Themselves?

There are many reasons why a child would end their own lives.  Some of the reasons may be:

  • underlying psychiatric condition (such as depression or bipolar disorder)
  • drug or alcohol abuse
  • feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness (a burden on their family)
  • sexual orientation (feeling like people won’t accept them for who they are)
  • family issues
  • physical or sexual abuse

Youth Suicide

Is Bullying a Direct Cause of Suicide in Children?


According to the CDC publication on the relationship between bullying and suicide, suicide related behavior (suicide, attempting suicide, or suicidal ideation) is rarely the result of a single trauma or stress.  Youth who are at risk are dealing with compound issues such as school, parents, mental health issues, etc.

The CDC stresses the importance of understanding the difference between circumstances being related to an event versus being the direct cause or effect of the event.


The Relationship Between Bullying and Suicide


The CDC knows that bullying behavior and suicidal related behavior are closely related, however, there are positives and negatives of the showing the relationship between bullying and youth suicide.


  1. Shows the harm bullying does to ALL children involved (the bully, the bullied, and witnesses.
  2. Shows the risk for the most vulnerable children (such as kids with disabilities, with learning disabilities, and LGBYQ youth.)
  3. Spotlights the problem of bullying and suicide and promotes an open conversation about prevention.


On the other hand, stating that bullying is the single direct reason for youth suicide can be harmful.


  1. Kids will start to think that suicide is the normal response to being bullied.
  2. It could encourage copycat behavior.
  3. Focus on blame and punishment instead of putting the attention on prevention and support for the bullied and the bullies.
  4. Takes attention away from the other risk factors such as mental illness, substance abuse, family dysfunction, problems coping, etc.

Bottom Line

Being involved in bullying in any capacity (the bully, the bullied, or someone who is the bullied AND the bully) is just ONE of the risk factors that increase the risk of youth suicide.


How Can We Help?


There are several different ways to help.  They include a multi-dimensional approach, including parents, teachers, peers, school systems, and learning coping skills.

As per, “No one person (parent, teacher, counselor, administrator, mentor, etc.) can implement suicide prevention efforts on their own.  The participation, support, and active involvement of families, schools, and communities are essential.  Youth focused suicide prevention strategies are available.  promotion and prevention services are also available to address mental health issues.  Schools, where youth spend the majority of their time, are a natural setting to support mental health.



School: Teachers & Students (Peers)


There are a number of small and large steps schools could take to start preventative actions.

Smaller steps would include teachers greeting their students by name and engaging them in talk about extracurricular activities they enjoy.

A sense of connection with a caring adult at school can provide support to kids who are having issues socially and emotionally.


School Based Programs


School based programs such as U OK? Friends Ask! Suicide Prevention Program are peer based programs.  Students take the lead, with a teacher, administrator, or parent who volunteers, in implementing a campaign against suicide for their school.  The National Center for the Prevention of Youth Suicide (NCPYS) helps school communities with resources to recognize warning signs, help friends in need, and know where to go for help.

There is no cost for the program but they do ask that you run a fundraiser where the program gets half the proceeds.

This is just an example of one program that could be implemented at schools to prevent youth suicide.  There are multiple strategies, manuals, tool kits, fact sheets, etc. that can be searched for in the Suicide Prevention Resource Center.




I know most parents teach their kids to be kind and accepting but lets talk about it a little.

Talk to your children about kindness and compassion.  Let them know that if they have a problem, they can come to you, without fear of you flipping out and calling the other kid’s mother.  Instill in them the philosophy, you never know what someone else is going through.  That child may be suffering from a learning disability and that’s why he can’t read as fast as you.  Or maybe that girl’s father lost his job, so she doesn’t have nice clothes to wear to school.  Maybe that kid’s parents just got divorced and he’s feeling scared, and alone, and lost.  That one snide remark could put one of these kids over the edge.

Tell your children: Don’t be afraid to be the change…..Invite the new kid to sit at your lunch table; offer to tutor that boy in reading; tell that little girl that you like her outfit (even if it is 2 sizes too big.)

On The Other Hand

Help your child learn coping skills.  If, hopefully it never happens, but if you become the butt of someone’s joke at school, shake it off.  Remind them daily, the only opinion that matters, is the opinion they have of themselves.  They create their own destiny.  We can change our emotions, that kid making fun of you is the one with the problem.  Maybe they have trouble learning, so they lash out at the first person they see.  It could be that they are going through something at home, and they don’t know how to express their emotions, and have no one to talk to about it, so they act like they hate everyone.  Teach your child not to worry about what other kids say about them.  Tell them they are beautiful and special just the way they are.



Meditation for Kids
Try teaching your kids a couple simple meditation skills.


Meditation for Kids

Meditation is a great tool to use to bring the mind back into focus, calm emotions, and ease tension.  Teaching kids some quick and simple meditation practice could help with the daily anxiety the school day brings.  Here are easy meditations to teach your child.

These were actually taken from Gabby Bernsteins's The Busy GIrls Guide To Meditation.  I’m going to put an adolescent twist on them (I hope she doesn’t mind.)


The One Minute Breathing Exercise

Have your child breathe in for 5 seconds, hold the breath for 5 seconds, and then release for 5 seconds,  Complete this exercise 4 times (for a total of 1 minute-hence the name)  Have them picture the perfect school day filled with happiness, not too much work, and acceptance.

I’ve learned that it’s all about mindset.  If you go into a situation thinking you’re going to fail, you’re probably going to fail.  Go into a situation with the best possible outcome in your mind.  Getting an A on a test, sitting with a great bunch of kids at lunch, having a nice walk home, etc. and it will probably go down that way.


Peace Begins With You

(This is my favorite, I taught it to my girls who are 8, 9, 11, and they love it and use it all the time)

Kids can do this exercise anywhere and parents can do when their kids are getting on their nerves LOL.  I like to have my daughters do it while they’re studying. Then when it’s time to take the test, they can do it and it helps them remember what they studied!!  It can ease anxiety, bring your mind back to focus, and it’s fun to think up different mantras so….

1st gently press your thumb against your index finger, then against your middle finger, then your ring finger, and last press your thumb against your pinkie.

When you touch your index finger, say: PEACE

As you touch your middle finger, say:  BEGINS

When you touch your ring finger, say:  WITH

And as you touch your pinkie, say:  ME

**Tip-you can say any 4 words you want.  My girls and I say   I    AM    PURE    LOVE     Your family can make up any 4 word mantra.


Walking Meditation

Even as you’re walking you can be mindful and practice meditation.  We all know walking the halls of middle or high school was hard sometimes.  You feel self-conscious, anxious, and sometimes even downright scared.  Teach your kids these steps to ease their minds as they walk.

Take a deep breathe with each step.  Focus on your feet hitting the ground with each step.  Think of yourself as more grounded and safe with every step.  Imagine their is a beautiful shiny bubble around you-that no bad vibes can penetrate-only pure love and confidence can get in.

Finally, use a your mantra from the Peace Begin With You exercise.  Say it in your head as you walk tall and proud.


Take a Tech Break

Gabby says, “One of the main reasons ware so stressed these days is because of technology.”  With kid these days, the internet is all they’ve ever known.  Between violent video games, cyber bullying, and being able to google anything, kids are constantly surrounded by some device.  They don’t go outside to play, they bring their phones to the dinner table, my daughters literally FaceTime each other while they’re in the same house.  It’s bananas but here’s what you can do

Tell your kids to take a 5 minute technology break (they will protest, believe me) but explain to them that all their electronic devices could be adding to their stress.  Then take a walk with them and, most of all, leave your phone at home too!!  If that’s not an option just have them sit on their beds in silence.  It sounds crazy but it will be good for their mind to be still, to just BE.  Also, have them close their eyes and take a couple deep breaths.  While 5 minutes might seem like an eternity, it will help them get more centered.


In Conclusion

There is a plethora of reasons why a child would kill themselves.  The experts do not believe bullying is the direct cause of youth suicides.  They do, however, believe that it is ONE of the many risk factors to look for.  I uncovered many ways to implement a suicide prevention program in my community, as a result I fully intend to follow up and ask if I can start a program, right here in my hometown.

Just talking about the subject of youth suicide makes people cringe and uncomfortable but we have to step up. Start early (even elementary school kids should be evaluated and taught proper preventive skill.)   Show your kids some of those simple meditations, hopefully, they will like one and use it.

Teach faith and hope.  Remind them…….


The most amazing things in life usually happen right at the moment you’re about to give up hope


The most amazing things in life usually happen right at the moment you're about to give up hope Click To Tweet

Please share this article with anyone who you think might need help.  My goal is to get as many people as I can, to actively help in preventing youth suicide.  When I lost my sister to suicide in 2015, although she was 35, it has sparked something inside of me.  No family should go through what we went through.  With a lot of effort, I will try to help these kids, one school at a time.

How to Stay Positive During a Major Life Change

It’s Hard To Stay Positive During a Major Life Change

We all know that feeling-a pit in your stomach, a punch in the gut, or literal pain as you feel your heart breaking.

The feeling of utter overwhelm that comes with a break-up, the loss of someone important to you (whether by death or decision).

Despair, as you hear your boss say, “We have to let you go….”

Or any other major life change that makes you feel like your world is coming to an end.  Although, it feels that way now, if you stay positive and believe the world works in mysterious ways, then you just might look at this time in your life as just the beginning.

Here are some ways to stay positive during a major life change.

how to stay positive


Put on Music to Ease a Troubled Mind

Put on your favorite music and as Taylor Swift says, “Shake It Off.”  I don’t mean some depressing song you listened to when you broke up with your 4th grade boyfriend either.  I mean some hard core, bounce around, sweat it off music.

Listen to something that reminds you of a good time in your life.  Music can take me back to some of the best times in my life, times of joy, and smiles, and laughter.  Let it transport you to a positive place.

Exercise the Blues Away

Nothing helps clear your mind like working up a sweat.  Don’t think, just go-run, walk, jump, skip, yoga-whatever it takes to clear your mind.  Making, or accepting, a major life decision is hard, and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly.  Take a walk and see if it helps give you some clarity on the situation.

A good walk in the woods with my dog is all it takes to clear out the overload and see things more clearly.  I definitely feel more positive when I get back.

how to stay positive


Read Self Help/Positivity Books-Watch Movies about Positivity

I have never believed in the “power of positive thinking,” until I watched I Am Not Your Guru on Netflix.  I was amazed at how straight forward and honest Tony Robbins was.  It really inspired me.  Some other great books are The Universe Has Your Back by Gabby Bernstein (this lady is a powerhouse) and Unsinkable by Sonia Ricotti (I saw her free webinar and read her book Unsinkable, it’s life changing.)  You feel like your life is falling apart and it might be.  These books talk about bouncing back and getting up after you’ve fallen down.

In my case, after my sister died, I was angry, angry at the world, angry at the mental health care system in general.  These books showed me, staying positive and trying to find the good in every situation, is the best thing to do.



Lean on Your Friends When You Need Them

Let your friends help, I know it’s hard to relinquish power over certain things your life.  Friends are there to help you stay positive when you feel like your life is falling apart.

When my sister died, I called my best friend first, I didn’t even get 4 words out of my mouth before she said “What do you need?”  I needed someone to take care of my girls.  I had no idea how to tell them that their favorite person in the world just ended her own life.  As I drove home that day, pretending everything was great, having Kelly was a gift from God.  She was waiting at my doorstep as I pulled up and pretended that she was taking the girls for a wonderful staycation at her house (it was across the street so they were never too far away from me.)  My 2 best friends took care of my girls for 4 days.  I still lean on them when I need help and they’re always there for me.

Your friends can get you through the worst things in your life, believe me, I know the power of friendship.  During a major life change, let them help.  Don’t push them away, don’t try to do everything, they love you, and want what’s best for you.


Spend Time With Your Family Who Wants the Best For You

Family is forever.  They are there for the good, the bad, and the ugly.  It’s amazing how much your family can help you stay positive during a tumultuous time in your life.   Talk to your family members, let them know how your feeling, I’m sure your scared or feeling lost.  Family can rope you in when you’re starting to go off the rails.

For me, spending time with my girls and, our pal, Tank (our dog) can only bring positive thoughts to mind.   Try to find the most positive family member you have and let them know what is happening.  They will probably give you some great advice and tell you that there is always a light at the end of tunnel.  The light gets brighter as you get more in a positive mindset.


Start Each Day with a Grateful Heart To Stay Positive

Every day, wake up thankful for what you have.  It might not be much, but you’re still breathing, and that’s all you need to be doing to practice positivity.  Be thankful for the strength to realize what is best for you, and every one involved.

I’ve made a printable gratitude journal page that is undated, so you can print out as many as you want.  Date it, write down what you’re thankful for, and read it back to yourself.  Even when life gets hard, staying positive and looking at what you have, instead of what you don’t have, keeps your spirits up.  At the end of this post, you can receive a FREE Gratitude Journal Printable, when you subscribe to my newsletter.



how to stay positiveAnd Then……….Have Yourself a Good Cry

And then there are those times, you just want to curl up in a ball on your bed and cry.  Cry for what was and what could have been.  Bawl your eyes out for thinking you were not good enough or smart enough.  Weep for the kids in the situation who are going to be devastated.  DO IT!!!

Let the river of tears flow, allow yourself to be sad be that brief moment….and then REMEMBER  The past is history and the future isn’t written yet.  Leave the past behind you.  Forgive yourself.  Forgive the people who have hurt you.  This too shall pass and 5 years from now, you’ll look back on this time in your life as a learning experience.  A place you WERE, not a place you ARE.  Believe things will get better, and they will, maybe not tomorrow or next week, but things will get better.  Be thankful for what you have.  Stay positive and believe all things happen for a reason.


Have you recently had a major life change?  How did you stay positive during a difficult time in your life?

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