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If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide, PLEASE call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Childhood and adolescence are especially challenging times for us, mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually. We are embarking on a process of self-discovery that will enable us to understand ourselves on a deeper level. We are forming our identity and creating our self-image. We’re finding our true selves. We’re forced to do a lot of self-reflection because we’re hit with so much confusion and turmoil. Our changing bodies, our fluctuating hormones, our physical development all compound the mental and emotional angst we’re feeling. We’re facing internal struggles, and how we cope with our challenges will determine whether we develop healthy coping mechanisms or fall into unhealthy patterns of addiction and mental illness. It is not uncommon for young people to struggle with suicidal thoughts, and it’s understandable why the numbers are so high when we look at all of the internal challenges they’re facing, often without the support they need to make sense of them.

On top of the internal struggles young people are coping with are all of the peer-related ones that can be just as hard to cope with. They can experience peer pressure both inside and outside of school, in their friend groups, and in their activities and programs. They can feel pressured to try drugs and alcohol, to skip school, to steal or gamble, or to have sex before they’re ready. They can find that other kids their age are coercing them and even making them feel bad if they don’t give into their pressure. Kids can feel tremendous stress, worry and anxiety, as well as depression and other mental health issues, all due to the pressure they receive from their peers. When we are made to feel as though we’re not good enough, the pain we experience can be so overwhelming that we think suicide is the answer. We’re so desperate to feel relief from our pain, and we think that ending our lives will bring us that relief.

Young people don’t just pressure one another, they also bully each other and can be cruel in their treatment of each other. Kids get bullied on everything from their ethnicity, religion and socio-economic background, to their skin color, weight and physical characteristics. They can be bullied because they don’t have on the right clothes or shoes, because they’re not popular, or because they’re considered different or weird. Schools, and our communities in general, often don’t foster a culture of inclusiveness and tolerance, and kids absorb our cultural tendency to reject and shun people who are different from us. Kids who bully often are dealing with internal struggles of their own and simply taking it out on other kids. Sometimes they are being bullied themselves, or abused or neglected, by siblings or other family members, other kids or the adults in their lives. When we feel rejected and unloved, inadequate and unworthy, especially when we are young, we can find ourselves gravitating towards suicide as the solution to our emotional pain.

Riverside Recovery is committed to helping you uncover the issues fueling your addictions. Our treatment programs include multiple forms of therapy, family workshops and mindfulness-based relapse prevention education. Call (800) 871-5440 for more information.