“Forty-six million Americans suffer from depression per year,” according to CNN.
Depression is a mental illness that many people struggle with, yet so few people feel compelled to talk about. Depression, for too many, can lead to the ultimate killer: suicide.
People of all ages, genders and ethnicities suffer from depression. Teenagers are one of the groups that is widely affected.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness states that “1 in 6 U.S. youth aged 6-17 experience a mental health disorder each year.”
This means that in the average high school classroom of 23, there are three or four teens who have a mental illness — most likely depression.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, in this past year there have been 3.1 million teenagers, ages 12-17, who have had a major depressive episode. But the reality is that many people in the 21st century still feel the need to cover up the fact that they struggle. They might fear that this makes them somehow lesser then their peers, but this in fact is not the truth. Statistics show that they are not alone in their struggling and, therefore, depression is a subject that more attention should be brought to.
This feeling of isolation can lead some to take their own lives to escape from the endless cycle that depression becomes. The National Alliance on Mental Illness also states that suicide is the second-leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 10 and 34, and the fourth-leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 35 and 54.
Suicide should never have to become the “solution” to the problem; there are so many other solutions, and if there was more awareness of the topic, many people would not see suicide as the only answer.
One main reason that suicides occur is because many people either do not see these warning signs or, when they are seen, do not take further action. Healthline.com states that some of the warning signs of suicide include abnormal sleep habits, unusual eating habits, rapid weight gain or unexplained weight loss.
A main stigmatization of depression tends to come from those who think that teenagers who suffer from depression are just experiencing normal signs of sadness. Another misconception is that teenagers are just seeking attention. Although this might be true in some cases, in many cases it is not. If more people were to take the warning signs seriously, it could lead those suffering to feel more supported and possibly result in a lower suicide rate.
In the 21st century, depression and suicide are plagues that are hitting many teenagers hard. If more people were aware of the signs, maybe we, as a community, could help lower the rates of suicide, while raising more awareness to this epidemic.
For more information, visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at suicidepreventionlifeline.org.
If you struggle with depression and have suicidal thoughts, call the national suicide hotline at 800-273-8255 for immediate help, 24 hours a day.
Liliana Horst is in the 11th grade at Conestoga Valley High School.