The 21st-century teenager is such a complicated organism. They go through many trials and tribulations and weather many storms before reaching adulthood. They can be sweet when they want something, and then they can be mean and lash out at you when they are hurt. They can also be strong voices for causes and a fervent activist on subjects that matter most to them.
Such a complicated being.
When my daughter was 14, I told her that her next few years would be complicated and hard. I told her that she was approaching the era of self-discovery. I told her that she would constantly change her hair, finding out which hairstyles she liked best. I explained that she would be experimenting with different clothing styles to see what looked best on her changing body. I warned her that she would be experiencing the highs and lows that come with teenage friendships and the beginnings and endings of early romantic relationships. I warned her that a LOT of change was coming, and it was coming fast.
I said there would be times when the lows she felt would be so low that she would feel like the weight of her teenage world would be too much for her to handle. I did not sugarcoat it. I told her outright. Afterward, I begged her, literally begged her to please talk to me when it does start to feel that way. I told her to watch for the upcoming stressful times like a brewing storm. I warned her that she WILL feel like it is all too much to bear during the stressful times and that she may feel like she can’t go on. I told her to remember that even though she may feel like she can’t bear the weight of it all, that yes she can, and I again asked her to please talk to me about it when it happens so we can get through it together. But even after all the intimate conversations, tips, and warnings I gave her, when the storm became too much for her to bear, my own teen decided not to seek shelter under my roof during her teenage storm of life. She did not come talk to me. Thankfully she sought solace elsewhere, but knowing that she still probably felt alone during her teenage storms pushes me to remind other parents that we still have to continually and constantly reassure our teens that the teenage years go hand-in-hand with trials and tribulations. Still, the door of communication is always open to help ease the stress, and even if they don’t want to specifically talk to us as their parents, we must let them know that there are other people their age that feel the same way they do and that they are not alone. There are therapists and psychologists that they can speak to as well if they decide that the weight of teenage life is too much.
The teenage years are indeed hard. I remember them. I also remember feeling overwhelmed with life and feeling like it was too much to handle as a teenager, but I made it through that storm and into adulthood. I remember feeling that the trials and tribulations of my teenage years were too heavy and that’s exactly what makes me want to warn the teens in my life about the upcoming storms of the teenage years. It’s not easy for most teenagers, but most maneuver through it. But then, sadly, some do not successfully maneuver through the rough patch. According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control & Prevention), suicide was the second leading cause of death for those 10-34 years of age in the US in 2021 and there was a 51% increase in suicide attempts for teenage girls in 2020. That is a staggering increase.
So, we must continue to have those hard but realistic conversations about what is in store for the teenagers in our lives. While teenage trials and tribulations are a right of passage, they are not always easy for all teenagers to bear. Talk to your teens, reassure them that the doors of communication never close. If you feel that this topic of conversation is too dicey for you to handle alone, then seek the help of a professional therapist or psychologist so that your teen successfully makes it through. Because just like a raging storm, they do not have the option to skip over the rough patch. They must weather through the eye of their teenage storms, trials, and tribulations not necessarily with ease but with resilience. Teenage Suicide is Preventable.