By Enya Bours
TRIGGER WARNING: This article contains information about mental health issues (including suicide) which may be triggering to some.
Emotion-heavy statements are increasingly tossed around lightly and taken as jokes. Interested in what teenagers—the group that is most prominently using statements relating to mental disorders and suicide—think about this topic, I interviewed a handful of students about them.
Q: How do you feel about the frequent use of “I want to die,” “kill me,” and similar statements and how lightly they are tossed around?
Alyssa Torres, Senior: “I feel like it’s overdramatizing a situation to say ‘kill me’ or ‘I want to die.’ Some may argue that these statements should be taken seriously, and perhaps they are correct.”
Jefferson Liu, Senior: “When people say it sarcastically, I’m okay with it. But if it’s serious then I know something is up.”
Q: Do you use them? Why? Why do you think others use them?
Angeline Nguyen, Senior: “I personally do not use them, but I think others use them whenever they experience something bad. They resort to those statements to portray a sense of negativity in their life as a way feel better about themselves so they won’t have to experience whatever negative is in their life.”
Torres: “No. Whenever I hear these phrase, it’s usually when it’s expressing exhaustion or annoyance. It doesn’t usually correlate to actual contemplation of suicide.”
Liu: “No, the closest I’ve ever said to something like that was ‘FML.’ Usually others use them as sarcasm, and especially with people our age it’s an expression of frustration.”
Q: Do you think it’s possible to tell if someone is actually suicidal from statements like these?
Nguyen: “I don’t think there is a way to actually tell if someone is suicidal from these statements because of how often it is being used as a joke.”
Liu: “I think it is. There’s warning signs, and there’s context as well. I don’t know firsthand but I’ve read about signs.”
Q: Did you know that suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S.? Are you surprised by this?
Torres: “No. I think there have always been teenagers and older individuals who have dealt with mental disorders.”
Nguyen: “It is not surprising because I know many individuals go through tough times and often resort to killing themselves as one way to fix their struggles.”
Liu: “I did not actually, but I’m also not surprised.”
Q: Why do you think suicide rates are increasing/more and more teenagers are being diagnosed with mental disorders?
Torres: “We have a greater understanding on the psychological and sociological aspects of human behavior and emotions. The numbers of diagnosis may primarily rise due to the increasing population as well as the further professionalism maintained to accurately diagnose and support patients.”
Nguyen: “I think stress and pressure plays a huge role in why they are diagnosed with mental disorders.”
Liu: “From the humanitarian point of view it’s because medical practices have gotten better, so we know how to tell if someone has a mental illness. From the skeptical point of view, it’s because today’s teenagers don’t have the same amount of mental fortitude or resilience as before. Kids in the 1940s had to deal with being drafted and possibly dying, while today we have to worry about grades.”
Q: How do you think suicide can be prevented?
Nguyen: “I think suicide can be prevented by establishing more support groups and communities, where these individuals can comfortably talk about their problems and get the support they need to relieve themselves and not think of suicide as a way to end the suffering.”
Liu: “Communication is key. If you don’t talk with someone who seems on edge, you’ll never know until after.”
It seems like students understand the weight of using such statements and the importance of taking care of their mental health. It may just be a common saying that teenagers use to express their distress, though perhaps not the best one.