5 Possible Reasons Why More Middle Schoolers Are Taking Their Own Lives

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.



Planting Spring Bulbs in December

On December 26, to be exact, the temperature here in Chicago reached a high of 55 degrees!  It felt more like March when the snow melts (Hopefully!), the days get longer (Thank God!), and heavy parkas make way for lighter jackets.


My spring bulbs arrived late.  My fault: I ordered them from Holland and ordered them long after I should have.  I prayed that they’d arrive before the ground froze.  No such luck.  They made it here when I couldn’t move a handful of dirt, even when I gave the flower bed a good kick.  (I had a sore toe for 24 hours.)

So, I was stuck with a box of bulbs that cost me $42.  What to do?  I emailed the company and asked what the heck had taken so long and how I should proceed.  Planting them outside was not happening.  The return email detailed instructions for planting the bulbs in pots and putting the pots in a cool, dry place.  In early spring, when the freeze had broken, I was to plant the bulbs in the ground.

I bought potting soil, labeled each pot, and stuck the bulbs as deep as the bottom of the pots would allow.  Some of the “bulbs” were the size of peas; I didn’t count on them surviving the winter in the basement.  Besides, it was warmer there than in the rest of the house.  I said a little prayer to Mother Nature and hoped for the best.

The very next day (as I said, December 26), temperatures rose, the sun shone, the snow melted, the ground unfroze.

“Get out there and plant,” my friend urged.

“I just potted them.”

“Well, dig them up.”

It was late afternoon.  I had maybe 90 minutes before sunset.  I thought of all kinds of excuses why I should leave the bulbs in the pots: my back hurt, I’d ruin my manicure, all the gardening tools had been put away . . .  Besides, how would I find those pea-sized bulbs?

In the end, I grabbed a trowel from the garage, some newspaper to kneel on and then began the process of sifting through the potting soil to rescue all the bulbs.  I failed.  Those tiny bulbs got lost in the shuffle.  And short of running all the soil through some kind of strainer, I gave up and headed outside with the bulbs I could find.


Alas, by that time, I had no idea which bulbs were which—their size, their color, not even what kind.  Frustrated, I dug a bunch of holes and threw bulbs in willy nilly.  I may well end up with tall flowers in front of small, clashing colors and flowers that look awful next to one another.

I guess I’ll just have to wait until spring to find out.





$.99 Book Sale Post Motem


I’m probably jumping the gun here: there are, after all, 8 more days until Xmas, 7 more days until Hanukah.

But all but one of my online discount book “campaigns” for The Sibling Connection: How Siblings Shape Our Lives are over.  Yes, I’ll wait with bated breath to see if somehow Booktastic at http://booktastic.com comes through big time.

Booktastic.com offers the following to authors who pay between $5 and $10, depending upon the genre and the number of subscribers.  In my case, a one-off email will be sent to 3500 potential readers.  Sounds like a plan.

  • We send our subscribers  daily emails in their chosen genres for ebooks that are on sale, and new releases.
  • Your ebook stays on our site for the duration of your sale.
  • We send our subscribers daily emails listing competitions and giveaways.
  • Our Facebook features include your book post being advertised to the fans who have liked our page and Facebook users who are readers in your genre but have not liked our page.
  • All emailed promotions are also featured on our website. This can help increase sales of titles or generate buzz for an author around a new release, giveaway or competition.
  • Our editors streamline your blurb to ensure we present readers with a short, attention-grabbing hook. When you advertise with us, you agree to accept any changes we may make to your advertising copy.

Music to an author’s ears.  Or is it?  The stats on not on our side:

After skyrocketing from 2008 to 2012, e-book sales leveled off in 2013 and have fallen more than 10% since then, according to the AAP StatShot Annual 2015.

The average U.S. nonfiction book is now selling less than 250 copies per year and less than 2,000 copies over its lifetime.


Now, during my $.99 sale, Amazon reported that 68 copies of the sibling book sold in one day.  Not bad!  And I don’t have figures for the other online book sites like Kobo, Barnes&Noble, and iBook.

And it was on the 68 copy day that my ranking in the Kindle sibling category skyrocketed to #1.  I was on top of the pile for exactly 24 hours.  Then the gradual slide began . . . #3, #4, #6, and now a disappointing #12.


Talk about a roller coaster ride!





I couldn’t help checking daily, if not several times a day.  A broken promise.  But I couldn’t help myself.  Not a statistician, I thought I could pair a particular online marketing feature with sales.  Besides, I was curious.

And, yes, that “big” sales day corresponded with features the day of and two days prior on http://bookoftheday.org/the-sibling-connection-how-siblings-shape-our-lives-jane-leder/http://booksgosocial.com/, and http://readingdeals.com/.

There’s no way of knowing how many potential readers clicked through to at least check out my book and whether or not they’ll remember my name or book title when my next opus is published.  Head’s up:  Dead Serious: A Book For Teens About Teen Suicide. 

But I wouldn’t hesitate to discount that book and sign up again for at least 8 of the online discount book sites.  I may not have made much, if any, money (What can anyone expect when selling anything for $.99?), but I know that I’d burned my bridges with social media and that I was in dire need of new marketing outlets.

I know I rarely, if ever, buy a book because of a tweet or post.  Like most folks, I’d rather rant after reading a post-election article or comment on a photo of a “friend’s” adorable grandchild.