5 Possible Reasons Why Middle Schoolers Are Taking Their Own Lives
Experts aren’t sure why the biggest surge in suicides is among kids in middle school, but they have some possible explanations.
1. Academic Pressure – Kids today are under tremendous academic pressure that, for some, begins in the womb. Parents are playing music, reading to their unborn children—doing everything they can to give their kids a head start. In many day care centers, the waiting lists are long, and, in some areas, the cost is exorbitant. In New York state, for example, the percent of median household income for one child is 26.04% The cost of child care for one infant is $14,144. Once kids begin kindergarten, there is a rush to get children into “good” schools—often private or magnate schools. Even if parents have the funds, there are limited places in private schools, and kids must make the “grade” with good test scores, impressive interviews. The same goes for magnate schools. And, so, the academic pressure begins in earnest. Sure, when most of us were younger, there was pressure to get good grades and to go to a “good” college. Today, the pressure is magnified with more students fighting over “spots” in what they (or their parents) consider the best universities.
2. Onset of early puberty at a time technology and social media have mushroomed. This is particularly true for middle school girls who, on average, start to menstruate at age 12. Their bodies mature, but their thinking and social skills do not. These middle school girls are often mistaken for young women and are treated accordingly. They garner unwanted attention from men and are expected to respond as older girls might. Check out the following New York Times article that takes an in-depth look at early puberty and its potential causes and effects.
3. Online bullying – Bullying behavior and suicide-related behavior are closely related. Translation: young people who’ve been bullied are more likely to report high levels of suicidal thoughts or suicide attempts than their peers who have not been bullied. However, what the experts don’t know is whether bullying directly causes suicide or suicide behavior. Most young people who are involved in bullying do not consider or attempt suicide. But it is correct to say that bullying, along with other risk factors, increases the chance of suicide. The “piling on” that kids can do on Facebook and other sites usually begins in school and continues at home. There is no longer a “safe” place.
4. Overexposure to sex, violence and anything unhealthy for young kids – Even if parents try to monitor what their kids watch on TV, it’s almost impossible to stop them from finding all kinds of stuff online, on their cell phones, iPads—you name it. When you compare the wholesome information that kids used to consume with what they see and hear about today, it’s no wonder that some grow up way too fast and possibly indulge in dangerous behavior like early sexual experimentation, drugs/alcohol, cigarettes. The list goes on . . . What can parents and teachers do? Educate. Talk to their children (students). Keep the lines of communication open. Let middle school kids know that you or someone they know is a “trusted” adult to whom they can turn with questions and problems.
5. The scary world out “there – With a world of political upheaval, deportation, terrorism, war, economic instability, middle schoolers feel unsafe. They feel helpless, unable to change the chaos that surrounds them. I volunteered at a middle school and was there the day after President Trump was elected. Minority kids whose parents may have immigrated from another country and feared their parents or a relative, a friend could be deported were hysterical. The school brought in counselors to augment their staff and to help quell the students’ concerns. It may be a good bet to turn off the TV with its 24/7 parade of bad news. (I know a lot of adults who have done just that.) Undue stress on top of the ups and downs of early adolescence can be a recipe for disaster.