Teens under Pressure
If there’s one thing I can count on when Maggie The Wonder Dog and I come in to the studio each day, it’s that my inbox is going to be jammed with thousands of e-mails about parenting. I get questions about curfews, discipline, tantrums — you name it. I take all of your issues seriously, but I’m especially concerned when I get letters from parents who fear that their child is on the brink of taking his or her life.
As much as we hate to think about our loved ones choosing this tragic behavior, death by suicide is on the rise. In fact, it’s the third leading cause of death among teens. Sixty percent of teens say they’ve thought about it, and nine percent of high schoolers admit that they have attempted it at least once. I’m convinced that so many teens today are under great pressure — pressure to succeed, pressure to get the best grades, pressure to be accepted to a “name brand” college — and too many of them are burning out and making self-destructive decisions.
As a father myself, I know you are asking: How do you know if your son or daughter is at risk? Friday on Dr. Phil, we had a candid discussion about the challenges our kids face and the warning signs to look for, and most importantly, the Dos and Don’ts of how to have a responsible and ongoing dialogue with your teen. A dialogue you need to have with a peace of mind that you aren’t going to be “suggesting” a dark avenue by bringing it up.
We’ll also show clips from the documentary Race to Nowhere, which features stories of young people, parents and educators from across the country who have either closely witnessed or experienced the adverse effects of teens constantly being under pressure.
Listen, I don’t want to scare you into thinking your child could be the next victim, but forewarned is forearmed. You need to be plugged in to your child’s behavior. I want this show to be a helpful wake-up call, so much so that I’ve made it available online.
If a friend or loved one is talking about or planning to take his or her life, reach out for help now. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1 (800) 273-TALK (8255) or go to DrPhil.com for more resources and suggestions).