When I was in junior high school, I would have loved the offer to take any kind of day off for a “mental break.” On July 1st, 2019, the state of Oregon did just that. In the last few years, suicide rates have climbed exponentially among teens. While others encourage teen audiences to embrace who they are, the brave who do are still often faced with battles they believe they cannot pervade. Embarrassment, fear of being judged, and relentless bullying is often what maintains the silence behind certain teens.
In 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention named suicide as the second most common death among the age group of 10 to 34-year-olds. While the wonders of the internet transformed the minds of youth forever, the simple worldly cyber exposures can impact as deep as personal encounters. The ability to face brutality amongst peers increases that simple amount of pressure allowing us to see the potential harm one does to oneself. Shows like “13 Reasons Why” based off of the young adult fiction novel, helps us understand how truly despondent these silence cries can be.
What is that stresses out teens the most? According to New York Times, a 2018 study on Utah’s students named “depression” and anxiety about politics and climate change a big advocate on accepting taking mental health days. The Oregon law allows students to take up to five mental health days during a three-month period. High school graduate, Hailey Hardcastle, shared that the bill was passed after being inspired for the student protest against gun control from the devastating high school shooting in Parkland, Florida.
The first time I accessed the internet was on my family’s WebTv-a sleek, small, black box with only a keyboard and no-picture internet. Everything was content. Even chat rooms. I was 12 years old and wanting to research everything about my favorite band and completely shocked that anyone else would feel the same way as me. I also didn’t realize how quick those sometimes friendly, sometimes scary comments from other people could be. Suddenly, I was experiencing something internally that happened behind a seeming glass box. Then, I could experience something out in the real world behind actual people. So, the impact felt like a dozen meteors striking me at different angles and drown me all at once if I tried to silence my head.
There are many people who practice at a young age how to meditate and take therapy or have another outlet to control thoughts and emotions. There are some who struggle just a bit more and can’t conclude a way out internally. With programs reaching out to speak about mental health, there is much more of a chance at life that I have seen grow over the past ten years, at least. When I was a pre-teen, the only way I knew about suicide was if I happened to flip through a teen magazine and know what it was. With our voices becoming more useful throughout this day and age, now everyone’s willingness matters.
Of course, when spreading the world on your fingertips, it is both a blessing and a curse for all. If all schools take the initiative to benefit from letting the next generation of youth breathe in a world that is increasingly fast, this can be a start in a much promising direction.