Suicide, teenagers and suicide

The topic of suicide is a topic that is not so easy to talk about. Still, it is a topic that everyone will probably face once in a lifetime. Perhaps if a good friend, classmate or work colleague plunges past you to death, or former leisure time participants who were on one of your leisure time years ago committed suicide at some point. It is frightening how many young people, how many teenagers commit suicide, it is worrying how much play more with the thought.

How could an evening be tackled on this topic? A suggestion, a few ideas and questions for the entry into the topic to the young people.

  • Outline the topic using a short story
  • Gathering experience from the own Life
  • To what extent are the motives understandable? Can the youngsters understand the topic and the despair of the people, which is often deep inside?
  • How could awareness be raised about suicidal youth? Doesn’t it matter to us (you)? Or what would you do??
  • If you were in such a situation, how would you react (very difficult and personal question)?
  • Would there be situations where you see no other way out?
  • How could faith help? Show that there can be many problems in life, but it is not worth throwing away your life. To show that life with Jesus makes some things easier – but not "carefree" but just different and carefree. "Throw all worries on him, because he cares for you!" . is easy to say – but whoever has learned to trust Jesus and is looking for new strength in Him will experience it.

A draft for an evening on this topic can be found in the group lesson plans:
Have you ever thought about it? Suicide!

The following story is symptomatic. Whenever there were recent cases of suicide among adolescents, there were previously hidden or targeted references to this act.

Christian’s story

It’s Christian’s birthday. The sweet smell of freshly baked cheese cake, Christian’s favorite cake, pervades the apartment. A few hours later. Reluctantly, then the mother thumps against the bathroom door. "Open up, Christian", she screams again and again. No Answer. Finally she runs a few floors down, fetches the caretaker. He breaks the door open. Too late: Christian is dead – the fourteen-year-old hanged himself with a belt.

The seemingly intact world of the family collapsed within a few hours. Again and again in the next few days, the parents rack their brains with the question: "What have we done wrong??" They leaf through Christian’s notepads and books, listen to his tapes – all to get a clue, "why he did that?"

More and more parents have to ask themselves this question. In German statistics, suicide is already the second leading cause of death among young people after traffic accidents. The number of suicides among young people has almost tripled in the past two decades. More than 500 children and teenagers bet with us each year an end to her life. Over 15,000 suicide attempts are discovered in good time: Experts also speak of a high number of unreported cases. Like Christian, many of the young suicides could still be alive today if the environment, especially the parents, classmates or friends, had taken timely notice of the warning signs that precede almost every suicide. Because hardly a teenager brings himself "over night" um, kills itself completely unpredictably and impulsively. In most cases, suicide is only the last step on a long path of disappointments, crises, unresolved conflicts. Sure: you can never quite unravel a suicide. But even with Christian, the way back to the chosen death can be traced. It is the protocol of a gradual failure in an environment that too much constrains, stresses and finally crushes a young person.

Christian grew up in an orderly family. The family moved to the high-rise three years ago. But only Christian succeeds in finding a connection quickly in the new environment. The parents and his two sisters, however, live quite isolated. Christian’s father has worked his way up from a small relationship to the employee in a responsible position, is very ambitious and strict. He wants his son to have an easier time later than he does. This is how Christian comes to high school, but doesn’t make it there and eventually has to move to secondary school. He is initially a good student there. But if he brings a four or even a five home, there will be scolding and anger at once. Christian often conceals bad grades out of fear. Order and discipline are very important to Christian’s parents. Christian’s room – as his friend Klaus tells – was always tidy, as if he hadn’t played in it. Christian rarely builds his railroad. He tells the friend the reason for this: the train makes too much dirt on the carpet for his mother. Klaus: "He was not allowed to do anything, absolutely nothing." Again and again bans, barriers, limits that Christian encounters.

The mother is very worried about Christian, almost anxious. "I was always afraid that something would happen to him", she says. So Christian always has to be home very early. And he complies. In any case, Christian too rarely dares to rebel against his parents, as would be normal and necessary at his age. Outside the close circle of his family, of course, among his comrades, Christian is transformed. Here the actually rather sensitive boy quickly becomes aggressive. Again and again he wants to appear particularly courageous and fearless to his friends "heroes" out. Klaus: "I sometimes had the feeling that he wanted to play with his life."

Once Christian balances over the narrow railing of a high bridge, at other times he sticks a needle right next to the pulse vein. He brags to his friends: "I have no nerves." His exaggerated aggression, the way he plays with his life – these are already clear warning signals that Christian is no longer able to cope with himself and his environment, that he is mentally ill. But there are others. The mother remembers that he often asked the father: "Dad, how is it when you die?" But at that time the parents paid no particular attention to all of this. They also don’t wake up when Christian – a few weeks before his suicide – puts the belt of his bathrobe around his neck and pulls the noose until his eyes go black. A warning sign cannot be clearer and more alarming! But how is the parents’ echo on them? "Cry for help"? Instead of immediately going to a doctor with Christian, ideally going to a psychotherapist right away, finally talking in depth with his son about his problems, giving him their special care and love, they rebuked him. As Christian tells his friend a few days later, the mother said only angrily: "So that you don’t do such stupid things again, we have to be even stricter." What is going on in Christian – to imagine it does not require great imagination. From this point on, at the latest, he has to feel completely alone, without any real trust in his parents, without a way out of the difficulties in the family. Now a small occasion is enough to trigger what Christian apparently sees as the only solution to his problems: suicide. This small occasion, it seems, is the five in geography that he brings home on Friday, his birthday, in the half-year report. His class teacher later says: "I didn’t realize it was a shock to him." But nobody knows how close Christian these five really went. What is certain is that Christian, before killing himself, turns to his surroundings twice for help. He tells his 14-year-old girlfriend Karin – somewhat blurry – that he wants to go away and won’t come back to school the following Monday. It seems strange to the girlfriend, but she doesn’t ask any further questions. "He was talking so confused", she says later. Christian then blatantly told his sisters: "I kill myself. You will see it already. Perhaps he is still secretly hoping that the sisters will run to the mother, tell her about the threat that the mother will stop him from making it all right. But the two girls don’t take Christian’s very last, desperate warning seriously, and don’t care. Then he goes into the bathroom and closes the door behind him .

The topic could also be deepened with the help of famous pop stars. There have always been examples of pop stars who committed suicide in the past and more recently. Money, success, apparently a lot of friends, great parties, luxury etc. could not hide the loneliness, the inner despair, the inner emptiness, the search for life.

  • In January 1978, Terry Kath, guitarist of "Chicago", his life by a head shot while playing Russian roulette.
  • Otis Redding, Jim Croce, Marc Bolan and many others died in transportation.
  • Elvis Presley died on August 16, 1977.
  • "Take as long as you can get something. Live intensely, love violently, die young", were Janis Joplin’s core sentences. During the production of their LP "Pearls" she was found heroin poisoned on October 4, 1970 in a motel room in Los Angeles.
  • Jimi Hendrix died of vomit due to barbiturate poisoning.
  • Keith Moon (Who group) died of a drug overdose.
  • Kurt Cobain (Nirvana) started suicide in April 1994
  • Rozz Williams, the former Christian Death singer hanged himself in his West Hollywood apartment in 1998. He was 34 years old. He made his first recordings with Christian Death when he was a teenager. He never got rid of the Darkwave / Gothic image afterwards – despite all efforts.
  • There are numerous other examples: (Kevin Wilkinson, Brian O’Hara, Screaming Lord Sutch, William Tucker, Adrian Borland, Wendy O’Williams, Rozz Williams, Michael Hutchence)

Questions can also be asked here:

  • What could have been the reasons for the suicide?
  • What role did music play? Was it a kind of valve, an escape into an apparent world of "Recognition, power, money, "stand up"?
  • It was the search for freedom?
  • What are our dreams Would you like to be famous? Have a lot of money? Become a well-known pop star, artist, footballer, successful manager, etc.? What are your dreams? What if you did that? Then what should follow?

Someone once said: "I planned my life perfectly. I wrote everything down in a little black book. When I had everything I planned, I realized that I had nothing." Many feel the same way. Dreams that do not come up, or when you have reached the goal of your dreams, you are emptied. Some cannot cope with this – longs for more. After love? After security? For something useful? If you don’t find and get that, you may not know any other way out.

To what extent can you give your young people orientation in life?
How can you do pastoral care when it matters?
How do you count on Jesus??


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Christina Cherry
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