attention all parents…there’s a deadly trend!

April 28th, 2008

This is an article reported by Michelle Kosinski, NBC News Correspondent on MSNBC.com.  I feel it’s a very important read, especially with the ease of information spreading via the internet where most of our young spend alot of their time.

LONDON – “Everyone around here is doing it.”  “It has become a trend.”  “I have thought about doing it myself.”  Somehow, these are all quotes from teenagers, talking about – suicide.

Since the start of 2007, 19 teenagers and young adults have taken their own lives in the tiny towns scattered through the southern Welsh county of Bridgend, where people have been living along the Ogmore River for centuries. Total population: around 130,000.

The rash of suicides has been an unsettling story, to say the least, here in the U.K.

To see the faces of victims, sweetly smiling in photos all in a row, leaves an empty feeling – they are so many, and so young.

The most recent suicide was less than a week ago. Sean Rees, 19 years old, was found hanging from a tree in the woods near his house. His friends described him as happy, and doing well – he had just gotten his driver’s license and a car.

Only about a week before, Michelle Sheldon, 23, died in the hospital three days after she was found hanged.

One by one, young people have suddenly taken their own lives here – some right on the heels of another death. And as staggering as these numbers are, there have been attempted suicides as well.

In January, the day after one 17-year-old girl hanged herself in her bedroom, her 15-year-old friend tried to do the exact same thing. She survived, but spent days in intensive care after her father found her and managed to cut her down in time. That same weekend, another of her friends also attempted to kill herself.

Internet connection
It seems unfathomable that something as irreversible, as final, as suicide could “catch on” among kids, as if it were another simply another destructive habit like binge drinking.

Police have formed a special task force, and have been investigating various scenarios including a rumored suicide pact among as many as six of the recent victims. Still, it all remains an eerie, terribly sad mystery.

One thing many experts seem certain of: it is a copycat or cluster phenomenon. And many believe that social networking sites on the Internet have raised teens’ interest in, and even fascination or obsession with, the cases, and may even be influencing the spate of suicides.

A number of the victims’ friends have left elaborate tributes Internet networking sites, and the idea that some of the messages may be glamorizing the deaths, has police and counselors worried. When suicide equals instant “fame” and shocking attention, there is the risk, oddly, of attraction to it. Counselors say the teens who fixate on the deaths could be at greater risk of following that same dark path.

Some investigators think the only link among all of these tragic cases might be those Web sites.

Anne Marie, a Welsh seventeen-year-old, told her local newspaper, “It has become a cool thing to do in our area – I have thought about doing it myself.”

Cool? As much as psychologists and experts have tried to make some sense of the string of deaths, for many it seems almost impossible to grasp.

No explanation
Is there some statement on society here, on death and extremes and publicity and fame? Or on hopelessness among people this young, with such possibilities ahead of them?

When you look at the town of Bridgend, it’s industrial, has its share of economic problems, but unemployment there isn’t any worse than other similar towns in that region. But those other towns don’t have a suicide rate as high as Bridgend.

It’s rate has jumped to 43 per 100,000, among males 15 to 24, over the last decade. That’s more than double the Welsh national rate of 19 per 100,000 for that group – even though Wales’ rate is already twice that of the U.K. as a whole.

No one seems confident enough in any specific theory to make grand pronouncements or explanations. Maybe there never will be a way to comprehend this fully. One teen in the area who had tried to kill herself, after the death of one of her friends, told her parents she didn’t really know why she, too, attempted it.

Counselors in school are working on prevention. They’re warning teenagers about what they call the “dangers” of the social networking sites – and warning parents to monitor them closely.

Still, the little county of Bridgend, dotted by ancient castles, is at a loss. The suicides keep happening. Nineteen of its young people, gone – in just over a year.

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Entry Filed under: Think About It!

1 Comment

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  • 1. Keisha  |  May 14th, 2008 at 4:40 AM

    When we don’t see our purpose, we don’t have the desire. Who’s to blame when a child wants to die?

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