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March 11th, 2010 by Dr. Phil

Teens under Pressure

prayIf 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).

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105 Responses to “Teens under Pressure”

  1. Katie says:

    Dr. Phil, I want to be the first to thank you for doing a show on this. I’m in the situation of being on both sides of this issue, I’ve considered it myself and I have lost people to it so I understand where both sides are coming from. Because of my life experiences I’ve made suicide prevention a cause of mine thank you for spreading awareness.

  2. gail says:

    I lived with this fear everyday.My exhusbands death was ruled suicide,my son was 15 at the time.i am a nosey mom and found notes my son wrote in his room.He even had a plan.He is now 18 and doing ok.We did alot of work,but i still worry.I believe in being a nosey mom.

  3. Jill says:

    I wonder is religion part of these kids lives? I was raised that taking your own life was against our religion, that you would go to hell. Do they even fear this or apply God and his rules to their lives. Let kids be kids and enjoy lifes small things.

  4. Amie says:

    Thank you for doing this show. I am a teacher and I see the pressures teenagers are under every day. What people need to remember too is that depression and suicide can affect anyone – not just the kid who wears black and never talks. I emailed the show, but will also ask here: are copies of your shows available for educators? I would love to show parts of this to my students, especially where Hill talks to the parents and teenagers. This would provide a great discussion starter in my classroom. Thanks again!

  5. Pam Wilde says:

    I didn’t find the show today helpful at all. The young man who survived a suicide attempt said his parents didn’t know what was going on because he hid behind a mask; yet, he says his parents did everything right by making sure he saw someone. How did he finally get help?

    There are too many guests on these shows and not enough in-depth discussion. ]

    Although I’m a big believer in CBT and talk therapy, it seems less able to work with young minds that still have a lot of maturing to do. That leaves medication, which is scary, but it still needs to be addressed.

  6. Erin Cavagrotti says:

    As the parent of a 21 year old college student who had a failed attempt last July, I so appreciate the show and do hope that you will continue to make this crisis a Dr.Phil mission as you have with other topics. Our community of adolescents and young adults need your continued support in changing the climate for these precious children and their families!!! I cannot stress how very,very important it is;the number of young people experiencing these feelings is so very,very underestimated.

    Nearly losing a child in this tragic way is life altering. There is not an hour of each day when that fear is not far away….is my child REALLY ok today? There is a constant struggle to balance hyper-vigilance and normal “letting go” processes…of working within a mental health system that is at best mired in red tape and cost containment measures.

    Often,when in crisis one finds that the focus is not on the person in the midst of
    crisis but rather,”what insurance do you have”, “your child is over the age of 18″, “its the weekend,we are shortstaffed”….and this,is just the tip of the iceberg.
    We have become a society of focusing on how to get the services paid for first and then worry about saving the child. Trying to get our son the help he needed
    was a nightmare. We entrusted our dear,sweet child to “mental health professionals” who we thought were committed to helping him through this horrible moment in his life and instead found people collecting paychecks and blaming the lack of quality care on “budget cuts”. Placing our son in a mental health facility was the most gut-wrenching,heartbreaking experience we have ever experienced….each of us. While he was “safe” and “stabilized” there was truly no real care and no caring,well-planned discharge.

    It was a nightmare.

    Today,our son is back in college and on medication and we take each day as it comes….did the mental health system in our community do all that they could to
    help our son and our family? No,not even close.

    Please,please Dr.Phil plan additional shows and gather resources to help those families like mine navigating through the worst pain a parent can feel.

  7. Terri says:

    What did I need growing up so that suicide didn’t seem to be my only way out?
    Parents who cared about ME. Parents who made me feel like I mattered to them. Parents who were selfLESS enough to pay attention to me instead of parading me around like some trophy while they preened in front of all their friends.
    Why didn’t my mom ever love me enough to ask me how I was *really* doing instead of disallowing anything but some Barbie-doll glossing over of … my unending pain of feeling completely unwanted by my own family?
    I spent most of my life wishing to be dead but maybe was too chicken to take action. It still feels weird to not wake up each day feeling suicidal.
    What would I say to parents? Kids are not *things*, they’re not pets. Kids take a LOT of time and effort IF you don’t want them to end up on drugs, having sex, longing for death. Don’t obsess or helicopter over them. Do learn how to be a great parent BEFORE you have kids! Grow up yourselves and THEN be the loving, mature adults your kids need and deserve to have you be… FOR THEM.

  8. Lisa says:

    I live two blocks from where the girls on the “east coast” took their lives. I grew up here, it is a small community that is grieving. The high school has done things for the students, but not enough. My daughter who is at the high school is being harrassed and bullied by friends of these girls because of rumors that another student started. The girls are targeting my daughter (and from what I understand several others including the one that was there at the time). I believe that it is because they do not know how to handle their grief and the ideas of death. Preventing suicide is very important, but teaching the ones left behind how to handle it is just as important. My concern is that the bullying and threats are going to snowball into not only my daughter thinking about suicide, but so many others.

  9. ashley f. says:

    i would just like to thank you for doing the show on teen pressure and suicide… i have been in this situation myself i suffer general anxiety and depression disorder and at times this has brought me to feel these ways as well but for anyone thinking about hurting yourself think about your friends and family they are there to help and would do anything in their power to help… dont put them through it……. i just recently had a friend that took her own life she was beautiful in every way but she needed help and didnt let anyone know.. beckys funeral is the 3 suicide funeral ive personally attended in the last 3 years all of which were under 20 years old… i keep their pictures nearby and when i feel this way i pull them out to remind myself of how much it hurt their families and friend… people do need to talk about this subject… its not one that needs to be forgotten.. if anyone feeling this way PLEASE get help i promise you are not the only one dont be asshamed to ask plenty of people want to help you… thanks again Dr. Phil ~Ashley

  10. M says:

    When my daughter began her sophmore year in high school she had taken pills one night. It was the second time. They were not overdoses according to the doctor in the emergency room, but definitely woke me up. The second time she had done this I was told I “had” to sign her into a “facility” (not true I found out). In this facility they strip-searched her upon arrival (I was not told of that either). She was given anti-depressants the very next morning. I went to visit her the next day and she looked like a zombie from the medication they gave her. She should have had a period of time for her to detox from the pills she had taken. On the second night they had her sleep in a building with no heat! She told me she had a very thin blanket and she wore all the clothes she had, including her coat, to bed. She was shivering all night (it was November in the Northeast). I found out she had a lot of “down” time. There were girls sneaking pot and smoking it there. She only spoke with a therapist for 15 minutes a day! I decided it was a very bad environment for her and wanted to take her home. They told me I signed a mandatory 72 hour stay form. The therapist told me that she would recommend my daughter stay after that. I disagreed and had a three page letter ready for them at the end of the 72 hours. When I went to pick up my daughter she said that she wished more parents would advocate for their children the way I did. She said she would take me to court to make my daughter stay. I told her to do what she thought she had to, but that I would also. I thought I was being a pain in the ass. But my gut feeling was that she would be much better off not being in that place. All of the girls were given more blankets on that and subsequent nights. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT: After we got home, she stayed home from school for a few more days. When she returned she was given a very hard time from a few teachers to get her work made up. That coupled with family difficulties and dealing with her own personal difficulties nearly drove her over the edge again. She had done research on home schooling. I had never home schooled any of my children. I was afraid to do it. Nevertheless, I took her very seriously. I had to let go of MY expectations for her. I decided to put her safety and happiness first. I remember the day I told her that I read her email and did some research ( in one day…took all day) and I decided to let her withdraw from “normal” high school. She took about 6 months to “decompress”. She needed the time to withdraw from the pressures of society and come to know herself again. It was well worth it. She is finishing high school about 6 months “late”. It does not matter to us. She is now a happy, functioning member of society. She has done almost 3 years of high school by herself. Her grades are fantastic. she has a part time job. She is planning on going to college. She is excelling in piano and guitar (teaching herself mostly) And she has a “reasonable” social life. She knows who she is and is not afraid to be herself. She does not drink alcohol or smoke (she’s tried it…she would rathe be “present”. I guess the point of my letter is that not all kids…people…must follow the same path. The most important thing is not the grade or the great school. The most important thing is to have a happy, safe child. The most important thing is to listen to your child. I have one son who graduated from high school. My other son decided to withdraw from day school in his senior year. He graduated from night high school. My daughter is graduating after home-schooling started in her sophmore year. My daughter no longer feels the undue pressure of all the expectations from this new society we live in. I was very nervous when I made the decision to home school. I received a lot of criticism from a lot of people. But it was the best decision for HER. I’m not saying that everyone should do this. I’m just letting people know that it is an option. I didn’t know. She wrote me a long email from school begging me to let her home school. I couldn’t ignore it. I found a curriculum and we started a week later. Actually, she has done it all herself. I have not had to help her at all (not that I could). She was still able to do a sport and continued with her musical interests. i became her cooking teacher. She is a fabulous cook now. I bought clay one day and taught her how to make a pot. She has had more time to pursue her art (painting and drawing) I just want to let people know that this is a viable option. It was a great show today. Listen to your child and don’t be afraid to not care what seems to be the “normal” path in life. There are many.

  11. Kathy Savino says:

    The topic was great. The information was so vague, that I didn’t see how it could help any one. Although, you did have the phone numbers at the bottom of the screen for teenagers to call. I was hearing that you are willing to help these parents and gave No pertinent information for the public to use other that to tell an adult and that was focused to the teenagers also. I saw the adults eager for answers and No real answers given, unless it was behind the scenes.
    I believe that the issue/crisis was skirted around the topic.

  12. Kathryn says:

    As an educator of emotionally disturbed/behaviorally challenged special ed. high school kids; I found the “forum” where the actor was talking with the teens unrealistic. You only talked with the high achieving, “good” kids… Yes, there is A LOT of stress put on these kids; but there is also A LOT of stress on other, “normal” and the “under achievers” as well… Sometimes MORE stress… I am wondering why you didn’t have a mix of ALL of these kids? We have had several suicides in the 5 years that I have worked at the school of 1500 students. And we have several attempts every year.
    I noticed that some of the kids were talking about how stressful it was getting into “name brand” schools, as they put it… Some of my students are lucky to even make it out of high school. It is a struggle for them to even make it to school every day. (Due to their living conditions, etc…) They can’t even imagine going to a community college or trade school, let alone a “name brand” school.
    I just think if you are going to do one of these again, PLEASE make it more realistic for EVERYONE!!! Not just the “Hollywood” crowd….
    I lost one of my students two years ago to suicide because he thought he would never be as good as the “good kids” at the school… (That is what his note said). WE NEED TO STOP LABELING THESE KIDS!!!

  13. Rachel says:

    I always appreciate when this topic is put out in the open. When I was 16 I attemtped to take my own life. Prior to that I had gone from a straight A student to a straight F student in a matter of a few weeks. I was crying all the time, taking tylenol like it was going out of style, and perhaps worst of all, I had started to cut (something I still struggle with as an adult). There was such a deep pain and lonliness….hoplessness…..it actually physically hurt. My mother and grandmother just called me crazy. One day I got into a fight with my mom and took my entire bottle of anti-depressants.

    I look back at that time (I’m 34 now) and realize how much pressure I was under. I was expected to be perfect. A’s were not even good enough….I had to have the highest A in the class. My future had been planned out already by my grandmother and mother and I was being asked to be someone who I wasn’t. Nothing I did was ever good enough…..I wasn’t good enough and was told daily how much of a disgrace and a black sheep I was.

    These are things that no child should ever have to experience. It’s not that I wanted to die necessarily….I just did not know how to handle such intense and deep felt hurt. I thank God everyday that I’m still here. While I still carry scars from those hurtful days, I am happy with what I have done with my life. The healing process seems to be ongoing.

    Thank you again!

  14. Anita Hall says:

    I am so glad you did a show on suicide, we need to get the word out every way possible.I myself lost a 13 year old child, and my exhusband both to suicide. If only I would have know then what I know now maybe my son would still be alive today. I’m not good at writing on these but I just wanted to say thank you, and also please say thanks to the guy from CSI that was on there. I wished I could meet him and help with his cause. I have so many regrets, and unanswered questions on my son’s death. Answers I will never be able to have answered. Losing my son has changed my life so much it is unreal. From Dustins death I have suffered from a PTSD amnesia, I hardly ever leave my house now, for I know people are looking at me and mocking me. I only leave to go to the store, or to take my daughter to the Dr. I spend about 30 min a week outside the rest inside. I know the pain I have suffered and I wish with all my heart I could prevent anyone from having to go thru what my family has. My children not only lost a brother, but also a father. Again thanks for running the story, I know you do not want a life story on me.

  15. peggy prickett says:

    I try to commit suicide 2 months ago and ended up on life support. It is what happen before and the rehab that broke me emotionally,physically, and mentally. In Florida they have a Law called the Baker Law. Almost anyone can call the police and tell them they feel their life is being threaten and the police can enforce this Baker’s Law.
    A man I knew for about a month took some antiques from me and I wanted them back and yes I had been drinking and called him 3 times that if I didn’t get them back I was coming to get them. I didn’t even know where he lived. He called the police and I was BakerLawed. 72 hours./ which after I found out what he did I took pills because I was not going to the crazy ward over that. I was put in this most disgusting, dirty place they called rehab. I was in a room with a Captain Army nurse and I am CNA and blood was on our floor and urine in the bathroom…..to make a long story short if they said sit ..we sat…they eat..we ate… we did what they said just to get out of there. Clothes were not washed and some of the women were turning their pants inside out and wearing them……. don’t tell ME about getting help. You would just end up back in that horrible place. I left there with someone else’s clothes and no shoes and none of my drugs I brought with me which are probably on the streets now. Being in there was enough to cause you to commit suicide. You need to go into some of these places.Oh, the man took my key and robbed me while I was in rehab. He was a con-man.

  16. Erin says:

    I have been on both sides of this issue. I attempted suicide on more than one occusion and have had a friend committ sucicide. One of the issues with telling someone you are about to committ suicide is there is so much shame that other people put on you. Telling how horible you are for thinking of killing yourself, I was told I did not believe in God because I was sucidal. I was going to hell because I thought about it, etc… It is hard enough feeling sucidal but to feel worse because someone has to tell you how horible you are for having these feelings is what I think why people do not tell people they are sucidal. There is just so much shame that is placed on thinking of killing one’s self.

  17. Carol Larsen says:

    Dr. Phil

    I saw your show today on teen pressure. Unfortunately my VCR is disconnected as we are painting the room it is in. I always tape your show every day. I was glued to the tv every second. I even had my husband who never watches Dr. Phil watch. I am a 70 year old gandmother and have 4 teenage gandkids. My 18 year old grandaughter is right now in the hospital for sucicidal thoughts. She was in 2 times in the last 2 weeks for very short stays. My daughter and her husband do not understand this problelm and are very confused. My ganddaughter was crying out for help for months. Since her parents did not recognize the symptons It took my grand daughter to ask them to take her to the emergency room. The doctor there admitted her to Physc. immediately. I have suffered depression since 1981 and still am under the care of a Dr. Your show is fantastic. Since I could not tape it I order a tape for overnight express delivery. I want my daughter and her husband to watch this show. Since they have no idea of what to do, and why my granddaughter is like this. She is in the national honor society and has been a 4.00 point student for her first 3 years of High School This year she is down to a 3.7, and this is part of her problem. The pressure of all the extra credits she does and and all the programs she was involved in was too much. Now she can’t think straight to read a book. My middle son commited suicide at age 30 in 1993. I still cry at times when I think of what he did. He was living in a different state at the time and I was not close enough to see the signs. If you have any other suggestions that may help my granddaughter, I would appreciate a response. It is tearing my hearat apart to see her like this. PLEASE do more shows like this as there are so many people that are out there and do know how to get help. I know from talking to several parents of teens that the parents think this is just a stage.

    Carol Larsen

  18. Rhonda R says:

    Recently a pastor visited my church and shared that she was with a medical examiner that recovered the body of an 18yr old that took her life. My son is 16 and was very quiet. I had recently noticed that he has been withdrawn from his friends and his grades were really bad. He sent me an email saying that he attempted suicide in 2009 by taking medicine he found in my nightstand. I was hurt that I didn’t see it at that time. Although he is in counseling I am upset with myself and now fear the unknown. He says that he feels better but how do you really know? I watched the show and hear what the children are saying and it brings me to tears.

  19. Joyce Long says:

    Thanks for doing the show today… I agree with so many of the posts here, I have been on both sides also. I have attempted it 3 times, I also had a nephew who shot himself. As Erin said above, a lot of people do not tell anyone how they are feeling or what they are thinking because then they are made to feel worse than they already do.. I know it has happened to me. I was told I was just a horrible person for even thinking this way. I was even told by a family member to go ahead and do it because no one would miss me anyway.
    Ive tried to open up and be honest only to be told to get over it!!! Ive been told to just get off my butt and get on with life, that I am choosing to be this way!!! It is easier said than done when there is no one there for you, when no one really cares. I too have been on the receving end of places only caring if they are going to get paid or not…

  20. Joyce Long says:

    Just a foot note to the above post, while I do have a lot of the signs I am not at this point in time suicidal… I live for my grandkids, they are the most important thing in the world along with my daughters.






    NEW HOPE (Not religion specific & help specific)

    In 2003, I began volunteering online providing suicide prevention & other help information when I saw a Canadian man posting his suicide note, on Dr. Phil Website, after the loss of his friend. I was unaware at that time that there were moderators who emailed out suicide information etc. when someone came on Dr. Phil Website suicidal.

    Plus, sometimes the best thing IS to talk it out or journalize & separate & get distance from the lies of depression about suicide realizing suicide isn’t a way to cope and is a way of not coping.

    Suggested a live link of help resources since MANY fellow Dr. Phil Website members would come find me online to post my several posts of help information at beginning of each Dr. Phil Board when archived about every month (until 2005). Live link was added when Dr. Phil Website revamped in 2005, except many didn’t notice live link.

    Nonetheless, help info live link WAS added to depression message board when Dr. Phil Website revamped in 2005. SO, I suggested putting “Click Here” by GENERAL AND MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES live link and a moderator graciously did that on 2005 – 2009 message boards. Then added “Click Here” to the most recently revamped Dr. Phil Website boards revamped in 2009. Plus, Dr. Phil Website tech staff UNSUNG HEROES added an international link for domestic violence… I suggested since we have fellow Dr. Phil Website members from around the world.


    Life is a team effort & the moderators on the Dr. Phil Website welcome your ideas & suggestions & concerns about fellow members just like Dr. Phil does.

    Equating suicide with mental illness isn’t a far jump from saying crazy and, really, suicide is a byproduct of the lies/mental distortions of depression. Depression is a sign something needs to change yet sadly some things we cannot change like the suicide of a classmate that was so sad to two classmates girls they committed suicide as well.

    In 2004 a fellow Dr. Phil Website member/teen was talking about suicide w/several of her classmates on another website following the death of a friend in their high school in a car accident. They hated me when I alerted authorities. Not only that I was stalked online by two adults (who were banned from website stalked me to) who felt I shouldn’t have taken suicide threats seriously. The teen is now a young woman now and forgave me about 2008, for seeking help for her (understands). It helped me today on Dr. Phil Show to hear Dr. Phil say today to take any threat of suicide seriously.


    We need Emotional and Life Skill Education (DAILY CLASSES) K-12 of age appropriate topics of which Clinton White House Administration was supportive of this idea of mine summer 1998. Still in 2010 we have a failure to communicate. Just like Dr. Travis said on THE DOCTORS I say… the best time to prepare for a crisis isn’t during a crisis and BEFORE. At the beginning of school year students should be given a billfold size care with help numbers on it & as well be posted in EVERY bathroom.

    I didn’t have credentials to implement so Emotional and Life Skill Education K-12 DAILY CLASS of age appropriate topics w/role playing etc. (since our EQ’s are as important as our IQ’s) still needs wings to fly. Dr. Phil’s son, Jay McGraw, has been successful with his Anti-Bully Campaign and I think Dr. Phil, his son, and Dr. Lawlis and their colleagues are PERFECT for designing an Emotional and Life Skill Education DAILY CLASS K-12.


    As well, if people do not keep a consistent schedule (which often happens in depression) pretty soon we can become disoriented from poor diet and lack of adequate sleep. Actually even a Disk Jockey who went w/o sleep for 36 hours for a charity event suffered psychosis & it took him six months to recover so that’s how crucial sleep is to mental health.

    Scroll down at first link and begin reading at HOME CARE:


    I don’t provide suicide prevention info as much as I use to up until Summer 2009. However, many refer persons to my author page where I have many of the links above and as you see I took time to find links to go with this comment. Why? Because I know that I know might help someone for many have said does and would have helped me. See… I’m a suicide survivor & I plan on PLAN ON never letting any place, thing or person (not even myself) get me so down I camp out in camp despair listening to the lies of depression.

    I was bullied in school then a battered wife and many say never knew because I was always smiling… Those smiles were for seeing them not my pain inside. Like suicide page… “I had more pain than resources to cope with that pain.” It can be embarrassing to admit battered yet it is worse to be embarrassed to death… No child likes to admit to parent that kids make fun of him and many try to handle on own to not worry parent. Speak up everyone… for SELF MATTERS INCLUDES YOU, Dr. Phil says and “God don’t make junk.”

    It isn’t the end of the world to have “mental illness” most people have it at some point in their life for there can be very valid reasons to be depressed ESPECIALLY LOSING A LOVED ONE. I was VERY depressed losing my Collie Mix Tigger Tiggs January 9, 2010, with heart wrenching pain. In Hollywood it is a status symbol to have a therapist. Mike Wallace of 60 Minutes was on a PBS special about suffering Depression due to often reporting on depressing topics and how Zoloft helped him.



    Also here’s a number 1-800-964-2000 in Dr. Phil book, page 255: RELATIONSHIP RESCUE for a psychologist in your area. The most important relationship you will have is with yourself. DR. PHIL QUOTE: “You are never alone if you are there for you”. BE THERE!

    Ms. Stephenson

  22. susan says:

    thank you for doing this show. I am not a teenager but an adult and I can say that back in 2000 I had attempted suicide myself but decided against it. I have an ongoing battle with clinical depression and all of the recent celebrity and teen deaths is scary. I do not think this is something I would ever do but I have entertained it. Unless I have said something specific, most WOULD NEVER KNOW what I am thinking. I appear to be a happy and content person. Being able to talk about it would help but it is a difficult subject to breach. I have a friend older than me who has also had suicidal ideation. When there is no hope and when you feel helpless it does seem like an option but I don’t think this is something I would do

  23. Robert B Seymour says:

    We as a people tend to look at things through our point of view so we think
    death is better than life.
    Suicide has a real name ( self-murder) and we all know what GOD thinks about

  24. unfortunately celebrities and reality tv stars aren’t always the best role models either :(

  25. Nancy says:

    Dr. Phil,
    I just got done watching your show on teen suicide. I’m glad you do these kinds of shows. I’m a 46 yr. old woman. My mother commited suicide when I was 5. I unfortunely inherited that gene. I have been challenged with depression my entire life. I have tryed to over dose, several times. Last year I was in extreme depression. I was going to my Phyciatrist and Phycologist, but nothing was helping. Most of my depression is from feeling abandoned. Last year I snapped and jumped off a freeway overpass. I spent 4 mths in the hospital and will spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair.
    Unfortunately, I am more depressed now then ever. The confinement of a wheelchair, leaves me in my apartment most of the time.
    I look back and I didn’t have it so bad. I was just lonely. I could go on and on. But my point is Thank You for your show. May nobody go thru what I have.

  26. Nancy says:

    To Joyce Long,
    I feel for you, I have been told the same thing “I choose to be this way. I choose to jump of the freeway overpass”
    People do not understand mental illness. It’s like telling someone that gets cancer from smoking “Well I can’t be there for you. You chose to smoke and chose to get cancer, see ya.”

  27. carol robinson says:


  28. Joyce Long says:

    Thank you Nancy for your response. You are right, no one understands. No one chooses to have Depression or a mental illness. Just like getting a physical ailment, no one chooses that, it happens. I am sorry for what you have been through and appreciate you taking the time to respond…

  29. Jessica B says:

    This show was much needed, teens lives seem to be getting harder to deal with. In your show there was a very strong list of “do not” but I didn’t feel there was a strong enough list for ‘do.’ I’m soon going to be 24 and in high school especially I had constant thoughts of suicide. I had convinced myself I’d gone crazy and seeing the effects mental disorders had on my family, I did not want to live through the same thing. My biggest deterrent were my parents. They are very loving and not perfect people, but they do their best and always showed me how important I am to them. When even this did not stop the suicidal thoughts I thought of my mother’s words. She said as a teen, many things are going to feel like the end of the world but the feeling will pass. You will survive. She shared with me her own former thoughts of suicide and how I was her deterrent – that she could not leave me behind. Having a mother who related to me and a father who was not afraid to admit his emotional flaws was the biggest help when I was going through this time in my life.

    Parents should not expect their teens to reveal their innermost destructive thoughts without reavealing their own. For the teen, having these thoughts in the first place can be embarrassing, overwhelming and shameful. Having a parent tell you it is normal to have such uncontrollable feelings because it is a critical time in your brain development and mostly because these thoughts are a lot more common than you think, is a strong deterrent in my opinion. I know I always heard my mother’s words when I was in my darkest moments.

  30. Although I’m a big believer in CBT and talk therapy, it seems less able to work with young minds that still have a lot of maturing to do. That leaves medication, which is scary, but it still needs to be addressed.

  31. My oldest child, Nicholas, took his own life on March 15th, 2007, at the age of 19 years old. Despite three previous, & one almost fatal suicide attempt, my son was released from the hospital–very much against our wishes, & only three days after he had sliced his neck open with a knife. He was discharged with black, Frankenstein-ish stitches in his neck! I was horrified that my son was discharged from a psychiatric unit in this condition–and I felt hopeless, like things were out of my control–I felt as though I was waiting for my child to die! He hung himself a week later in the basment of his father’s house.
    I did not watch your show yesterday because my husband, Nick’s stepdad, was diagnosed with cancer only hours before it’s airing. AND—I feel it was the professionals’ lack of judgment that resulted in my son’s death. That, and his severe & unrelenting depression.
    My son, Jacob, is only 14 months younger than Nick, and he is a Jr. at a local Maine university. (Geo-Chemistry Major–a Jr.) He has had a very rough time since his brother’s suicide, and made an almost-fatal suicide attempt himself last August. I am always terrified…..always fearful of the death of one of my remaining children!
    My two little girls, Emma, 8, & Kaysa, 5, each have forms of autism, but have made remarkable progress towards recovery thanks to early & intensive intervention—and all of the ‘angel/professionals’ who care about them & our family.
    Emma has recently stared to ask lots of questions about Nick…..and she has also openingly started to grieve. It is heartbreaking to me. All of this is!
    My stepson, Alan, is 20, and severely disabled. He lives at a special family-style special care facility almost 100 miles from us. (Maine is a very rural state.)
    My husband has cancer….I am just so worried about EVERYTHING……and I miss Nick more than I can say. I am actively involved in Hospice Groups–Grieving Parents’ Support Groups….& I previously worked for years as a RN on adult psychiatry…how ironic is THAT? I knew the psychiatrists, making it even sadder for me.
    Nick’s son, Deven, was born only weeks after my son’s burial. He has never met his daddy…Deven looks like a clone of Nicholas, it’s uncanny. What a blessing, what a gift he is!
    Nick had SOOOOO many of the warning signs of teen depression & suicidality, yet the profesionals didn’t see it!!! And this show was for parents……I think professionals should watch it, too.
    HOW do I cope with all of this, Dr. Phil—how DO I?
    WABI-TV 5 News in Bangor once did a segment on suicide, they interviewed me…back in October 2009.
    Can you HELP me, Dr. Phil, can you give me & my family words of encouragement?
    Thank you!!!

  32. I hope everyone sees TEENS UNDER PRESSURE entire DR. PHIL SHOW episode at tv.com



    Not only is today a gift since the present
    Y’all are a gift
    Being Present

  33. Sandra says:

    Some find it hard to believe that teenagers can actually be depressed. ‘They’re just kids,’ adults may reason. ‘They lead a carefree life, and they certainly don’t have the anxieties of adults.’ Or do they? The fact is that adolescents face pressures that are far more intense than many adults realize. Dr. Daniel Goleman states: “Each successive generation worldwide since the opening of the [20th] century has lived with a higher risk than their parents of suffering a major depression—not just sadness, but a paralyzing listlessness, dejection, and self-pity, and an overwhelming hopelessness—over the course of life. And those episodes are beginning at earlier and earlier ages.”
    Still, many parents might object: ‘We made it through adolescence without becoming depressed. Why is our child overwhelmed with negative feelings?’ But adults should not compare their adolescent experience with that of youths today. After all, individuals differ in the way they perceive the world around them and in how they react to it.
    Besides, today’s teens face an added challenge. “They’re growing up in a world quite different from that of their parents’ youth,” writes Dr. Kathleen McCoy in her book Understanding Your Teenager’s Depression. After citing a number of significant changes that have taken place in recent decades, Dr. McCoy concludes: “Teens today feel less safe, less empowered and less hopeful than we did a generation ago.

    According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, in one recent year more young people in the United States died from suicide than from cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia, influenza, and chronic lung disease combined. Another disturbing fact: There has been a dramatic increase in reported suicides among people between the ages of 10 and 14.
    Can adolescent suicide be prevented? In some cases, yes. “Statistics show that many suicides are in fact preceded by attempts or verbal hints and warnings,” writes Dr. Kathleen McCoy. “When your teenager even hints about suicidal thoughts, it’s time to pay close attention and possibly seek professional help.”
    The prevalence of teen depression underscores the need for parents and other adults to take seriously any indications that a young person gives of wanting to take his or her life. “In nearly every case of suicide I have reviewed, clues to the adolescent’s plans were overlooked or downplayed,” writes Dr. Andrew Slaby in his book No One Saw My Pain. “Family members and friends did not understand the enormity of the changes they were seeing. They focused on the consequences and not on the underlying problem, so that ‘family problems’ or ‘drug use’ or ‘anorexia’ became the diagnosis. Sometimes the anger, the confusion, and the irritability were treated but not the depression. The underlying problem remained, torturous and festering.”
    The message is clear: Take all clues of suicidal tendencies seriously!

  34. Leo Taylor says:

    Communication is the problem, in my opinion. Conflict; or Know Thyself before going into the Struggle gives communication skills, which are severely lacking in males. Adults suffer when they come together in a relationship. Kids and teenagers suffer because few have offered them the necessary communication skills to cope with life, their emotions, and their parents. I have worked with children and teenagers, in a psychiatric hospital setting, for two years, using the principles in the book. For the suicidal ones (60%+), I ask about why they are on planet Earth. Eventually, they mention the word ‘learn’. I then tell them that they are learning, though they may not like how they are learning. I then ask them when the only time learning stops. They all answer “When you die”. I then tell them that if they succeed in suicide, they will stop learning. This always causes them to rethink.

  35. Iris says:

    I do NOT even know where i should began.. I have attempted suicide myself!! Boy! could i tell you of the FEAR.. DARKNESS..
    Now i face the same Shadows Of FEAR for my on DAUGHTER. Haunted by A feel of DOOM I grasp at any means to change this cycle. MY DAUGHTER (as myself) has been in such trauma since she was born. In attempts to Help i fall short ..in every turn. I Have no means of support it seams. i feel stuck abandon and helpless and hopeless.my story is so unbelievable and unreal .. I have been asked by many How are you even hear today.. much less having to relive most of the same traps and cursed that you have tired survived your self. only to see it inflicted on your child and reliving it through her. I cant go into all the details. but when i tell you .. as a single mom with 2 children .. also being disabled.. trying to beat the odds.. I find myself in a state of weariness. That does not mean i will give in or up. yes MONEY is an issue but some how God keeps us going..
    WE need a break. maybe i can get one through posting this.
    My daughter has been through so much .. i do not want to put her through any more .. i will say MY this.. most everyone has Failed her and me.. i have pleaded and fought every source i know only to be kicked down .. by our former Church , some friends , community, court system. and yes the SCHOOL… their is now help it would seem for me. we have been in counseling, DR. to the school body.. and nothing.. SHE has dealt with rejection , bulling,sexual assault, form family , school mates … i have FOUGHT FOUGHT FOUGHT but it is who you are and money that talks here. the school is not doing there jobs nor is the courts ..
    AND I just do not have the resources to fight them. I have don’t what i know and can afford to do..
    she told me after this last incident MOM you cant do anything. they will not listen to you . they are not afraid of you. you see EVERYTHING happens to me.I ask you what is the Schools responsibility WHEN a child is Sexually assaulted by a peer .. which is witnessed by a teacher and reported. then is found out that he as assaulted another student the same day (whose parents just pressed charger the next day)? then to find out by my child this student is sitting back in the room with her and at the school in class. to intimidate her .
    i have gotten now where. … they tell me nothing. only i can press charger.. i say well what are Y”ALL doing … There only actions. was moving him aft i raise so much sane .. to other classes .. HUMMM.. Should i say my daughter is tormented. by faculty and peers over and over.. she is punished when other are not.. called out .. and isolated because she is threaten so she want get hurt .. instead of punishing the one doing the hurting…
    this all accompanies her by the act of being molested by her Step father.. whom she knew and grow to love from 4 months of age..TWO Easters ago. a horrible ordeal, I did all i could do to bring this to justice .. full extent..everyone fail us. now this at school .. one more thing.
    I just cant fight the system.. i don’t have the power or money.. i have exausted everything i have and can barely make it now. i do fear .. losing. my child because she knows no matter how hard i fight for her.. nothing helps or works.. we are knocked back down every turn.
    I am asking for help
    I want give up..
    i will keep doing what i can till someone listens.
    I pray it want be too Late.
    I am saying IS ANYBODY OUT THERE!

  36. Great stuff, thanks for sharing!

  37. FosterBoys says:


    So that stuff’s legal in most states? Did not know that.

  38. Pam Wilde says:

    People want simple answers, but that’s immature thinking. The ‘blame the parents’ mentality is simplistic. Parents have their role to play, but so do genetics, hormones, and the environment. It’s natural for teenagers to want to separate from their parents and look to their peers for acceptance. It’s part of growing up. When kids aren’t accepted by their peers, there’s only so much parents can do. They can include their kids in family activities, but teenagers want more than that. My local university is conducting studies on whether bullying (including being left out) affects the structure of the brain. I strongly suspect this to be the case. I’ve seen happy, confident children become sad, lonely teenagers. What do you think these parents did to change a child that way? As Dr. Lawless knows, there are techniques that can be done to change the structure of the brain, but this takes time and a certain level of maturity. I think it best to support the parents in their struggle to find their children the help they need before it’s too late.

  39. aam says:

    I was been diagnosed with depression at 13. It was hard to understand but as I got older I realized it was heriditary. My grandmother was manic and my mother and sisters also suffer from depression or anxiety. I never understood why I felt the way I did now that I look back on it I had a good life .I went through years of medication and counseling but sometimes still felt depressed. I at one point self mutilated it only made me feel guilty. I finally found the right counselor and medication for me ,and I felt like a normal teenager again . Up until 22 years of age I was on anti-deppresants I feel like I succeded . I’m proud to say that I’m 23 and I am very succesful. Unforrtunately these girls on the east coast(which is the neighborhood I grew up in) never got to understand that there is help and its only a step away . I had courage to ask for help , and receive it. If there is anyone reading this that is depressed just go to a close friend or family member that will understand and make sure you get the help you need in time before its too late. Hopefully my story has helped someone move in the right direction!

  40. Sally says:

    We need to ease up on kids and let them be kids. There is this mindset that EVERYONE needs to go to college and that it is all so important to go to a “Brand Name” college. This has overcrowded colleges and made the competition to get into the best University far too stressful. Successful people will be successful regardless. Case in point – from what university did Bill Gates graduate?

    As a recently retired teacher who taught in an upscale community I can tell you that it is the parents who put the pressure on their children. From the time I went to kindergarten until I retired from teaching I saw an alarming exponential increase in homework. When students complained to me about the amount of work other teachers were giving them I took it up with administration. The reply was that the parents demanded more homework so that their children could get top scores on state exams so they could get into the “right” colleges. Studies prove that homework in and of itself has little value. Unfortunately, teaching is the only professional where everyone else knows better than the people actually working in the profession and the powers that be bend to the will of parents and politicians. I’ve watched my own grandchildren from the time they were in kindergarten slave over homework. Homework in the lower elementary grades is just downright ridiculous! Sometimes it takes them so long they don’t get an opportunity to go out and play. The negative factors of homework are stress, lack of proper rest, and time just to be a kid. We downplay the latter, but there is tremendous value in creative play.
    What we need to do is let our kids know that whether they wind up driving a trash truck or develop a cure for cancer they are valued and loved. I would rather have my child be alive and happy doing something that will never get them into Who’s Who than have a child who thinks I will only accept they get into the best medical school and then have them take their life because they think they cannot measure up.

  41. Lylee Williams says:

    I work as a librarian in a First Nations high school in Canada. I happened to be sitting in a hospital waiting room when your show “Teens Under Pressure” came on the television set in the waiting room. Working in the midst of hundreds of teens daily, I am interested in acquiring a copy of that show for our library as I am sure it will be used initially by the high school staff. Unfortunately, when I tried to view it online here in Canada, I received a message that it is only available in the United States. Is there any way that I can have access to that particular show?

  42. mimosa says:

    Dear Dr. Phil,
    I just finished watching your episode on teen suicide and feel I need to verbalize what I have thought for over 20 years. It should be mandated that our public schools, all schools for that matter, need to include a self esteem program in their curriculum. The education system is designed to teach our children the things they feel they need to achieve a successful and productive life, but it doesn’t bring with it the skills to cope with the educational overload. What is the point in drowning our kids in education and expectations if their self esteem, their self image and self worth are not strong or healthy enough to keep them afloat?
    When I tuned 40 I returned to school. The first class I took was a Self Esteem class. After taking the class I wanted to know, why wasn’t this something that was part of our school systems curriculum? Had I taken a class like the one I had just finished taking, during my high school years, I may have made better choices for myself and been much further along in my life today. When I was in high school I was told I was not college material and believed it. It wasn’t until I was forced to go back to school and took this class that I realized that the tape recorder going on in my head all these years was wrong.
    Dr. Phil, with you at the forefront, leading the masses, I believe introducing a self esteem class as part of the schools system curriculum would benefit all the teens in this country.

  43. mimosa says:


  44. Susanne says:

    Hello Dr. Phil. Susanne from Norway here. (that explains the bad english, haha) I watch your show often, and I just want to thank you for being you. I enjoy every show, you are so smart and reasonable. I’m eighteen years old and on my way to an education so I can work in the child welfare, because I want to work with teenagers that has issues and that is insecure with themselves. I believe my personal experiences can be an important tool for me in that kind of work. I can’t wait to finish my education and get a job that will give me so much back, if you understand what I mean.

    I really like these thoughts you have when it comes to teenagers and suicide, and I agree that it has to do with pressure and high expectations. But I also think that a lot of teens don’t know where to get help. I mean, we have lots of physical health in our education, like gymnastics. But what about the psychic health?


  45. TC says:

    I enjoyed the show and will have my teen watch it as well. I’m hoping there will be a follow-up show because there is not enough time in one show to cover everything. I feel this is a very serious problem that does not get enough attention. Unless we educate ourselves soon, we could be in for an unpleasant surprise in the future. Trust me when i tell you, whether or not you see signs, it can happen to anybody. Parents stay in touch with your kids and their very close or best friends, kids stay in touch with your parents or some adult you feel comfortable talking to. Keeping this a secret is the #1 worst thing to do.

  46. Blgspc says:

    To: Britt Holmstrom-Salisbury AND to ALL of the folks on this Blog who are struggling…

    I will keep you and your family(s) in my thoughts and prayers!


    P.S. Prayer WORKS!

  47. Clarissa says:

    All i have to say is as a teen myself at 15. Kids do stuff they say they dont. Their in the bed doing drugs and thinking about killing them selves and having eating disorders. Some do all of it.
    Just think you may have caused it all.
    Give your kids space but look threw their stuff. You could save their life.
    Me and my friends have secrets i bet your teens do too. And if mine knew i know they would be ashamed.

  48. Kristin says:

    Hello, I am a 27 year old, single mother of 2. I have a little boy who is 2 and a little girl who is 10 months. I just walked away from a horrible marriage on Dec, 31st. He was very abusive and I was afraid he would kill me. I left with my children and moved in with my sister, her 4 children, and her husband. She told me that my son wouldnt be in the unfinished basement because he has bad asthma. I believed her. Well needless to say we are in the basement and we are also in and out of the hospital. I am a stay at home mother, trying to get a job and trying to keep my child healthy. I dont have a job at the moment. But I am looking everyday, I am trying everyway I can find to get out of this house. I have tried get intouch with DrPhil and Oprah hoping just maybe they would want to help. But after trying to get help from DrPhil for almost a year and still getting nowhere. I am going to try again here. I am a single mother with no car and no help. I would like to know if there is anyone out there that would want to help a domestic violence survior, single mother help her children with a home. A HEALTHY HOME! I am not asking for a manison because that isnt me. I dont want a bentley because that isnt me either. I would like a home close to my sister because family is everything to me. My sister is my best friend she has helped me so much more then I could ever repay. If there is anyone out there that can help us. Donatation, charity help, and assist a single mother. I am looking for a hero or a miracle at the hands of a stranger. I am begging and plendy for someones help. Thank you for listening.

  49. Linda says:

    I am a 44 yr old single mom of two girls. One is 19 and the other is 6.The 19 yr old has said a few times through her life that she wanted to kill herself. She has has a hard time interecting with her piers. She has ADHD and other problems. With meny isues and to make long story short. I mentaly couldn’t take her any more I kicked her out and my sister took her in to try to help her, but she is having the same trouble that I had with her and is about to kick her out herself. As her mom I just don’t know what to do for her. I just know I can’t mentaly handle taking her back in with me. I have to think of my 6 yr old to. I don’t want her to think she has to live in a box or kill herself. I do love her, she needs more help than what I can give her. She has no money to get help and I don’t have the money to get her help. I am woried and scared for her.I am desprit for some kind of help for her. Other adaults who have met her and gotten to know her a bit think she should go on SSI. A couple of doctors don’t think she needs it. I am at a lost of what to do. Thank you for listening.

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