It continues to amaze me that, in a world where we are constantly talking, updating status’, tweeting, and reading online, that we are so disconnected by the problems facing us on a daily basis. In a survey that was done in 2010 in the Washington D.C. area, junior high school students, as well as other teenagers, were asked numerous questions. One of these regarding suicidal thoughts.
Of the 1,186 students surveyed, almost 10% of 8th grade students had attempted suicide. Another survey was given to high school students with questions asking about suicide; 1,396 students were surveyed and 12.5% of these students in their senior year of high school had attempted suicide in the last year.
After these numbers were released at a meeting, a city council member stated that she was shocked at many of the numbers that were reported. It seems that many people, not just this city council member, are shocked at suicide statistics because they have never looked into the numbers of people attempting, or committing, suicide. The reason so many people have no idea of these statistics or of how common suicidal thoughts or actions are is simple: it’s not talked about.
Earlier this month, a man who was very prominent in the social media world, committed suicide. Trey Pennington was constantly connected through Google+, Twitter, Facebook, and many other social networking sites; he also had his own consulting practice. The news of his death spread quickly and was all over the Internet and these social networking sites, however, not many news stations picked up on the story. Local news stations covered his death but I was surprised to see that not many other news media picked up on this story.
Thousands of tweets and status’ were put up in regards to Trey Pennington’s death; it caught the eye of many people, and still it wasn’t a story to most mainstream media. The taboo of speaking about suicide and death is so evident when it comes to stories such as Trey’s.
On the other hand, there are still people out there advocating and trying to get people to talk. This column by Shel Holtz brings up, not only Trey’s tragic story, but also talks about their own experiences with depression. We need more people like this to bring up the subject, to break the taboo, and to spread the word about this serious issue.