This weekend was emotionally, physically, and mentally exhausting. On Sunday evening, I text my boss and told her I needed a “mental health day” on Monday. She of course, granted it. By Tuesday, I was well rested and ready to start my week. My first client comes in and I can tell she’s distressed. We start to work, and she looks at me and says, “Are clients allowed to go to a funeral?” I said, “depending on the circumstances, yes.I have had clients go to funerals while in treatment.” She looked at me and burst into tears immediately. She stated that her friend just lost her 13-year-old daughter to suicide. According to my client, this young girl was bullied and had no friends. Most of my clients do not know that I lost a child. Some do, but, most don’t. This client did not. When she said it, I didn’t feel anything. My heart didn’t drop, tears didn’t form. All I could do was support her in her grief at that moment. The only emotion I felt was anger. But it didn’t hit me until after she left. Another 13-year-old girl took her own life. Why? How? This epidemic must stop. “ARIA, I pray that you meet this young girl at the gates. Give her a hug and show her what true friendship, love, and kindness look like.” You were always such an amazing friend.
If you can close your eyes try and imagine, the brain develops in a back to front pattern. The last part of the maturation process is the Prefrontal Cortex. As a result, teen brain development is not yet complete. The Prefrontal Cortex carries out, or in other words advances “Executive Functioning” The Executive Functions of the brain are impulse control, ignoring external distractions, complex decision making, emotional reactions, prediction of outcomes (good or bad). The list goes on…… The idea that teenagers are “emotional or hormonal” is true. BUT it’s the fact that their brains are not fully developed that plays a deeper role in behavior.
Erik Erikson created the 8 Stages of Psychological Development. During the ages of 12-18, children are facing Identity vs. Role Confusion. Teen behavior can seem impulsive and unpredictable, but all of this is part of the process of finding a sense of personal identity. This is where adolescents question, who am I? They explore various roles and ideas. The most important “Event” in children during this stage, is Social Relationships. Therefore bullying, social media, what children watch, listen to, and hear, play a huge role in not just how they feel, but, who or what they “believe” they are.
As I have stated before, death by suicide is now the 2nd leading cause of death in ages 10-24. Approximately 4,600 lives lost each year. More teenagers and young adults die from suicide than from cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia, influenza, and chronic lung disease, COMBINED.
Star Tribute posted an article on April 30th, 2019 addressing the increase of suicide after the release of Netflix’s “13 Reasons Why.” The show was released in March 2017. In April 2017, 190 U.S. teens/tweens took their life. Which is nearly 30% higher than the preceding 5 years. Since Aria has passed, I have seen some extremely disturbing things on Aria’s Netflix and YouTube that were disguised by Disney Characters. I watched Mickey Mouse hang himself. I have watched Bart Simpson jump off a 14-story building, Tiny Toon characters shooting themselves in the head. At one point there was a YouTube adaptation of Frozen called Elsagate, which sole purpose was to show Elsa’s character completing suicide in many ways.
Joji or Filthy Frank (same person), Music Artist and Youtuber, was found on YouTube “kids” giving suicide tips. He has over 1.3 Billion views and 9.3 Million subscribers. I found 8 songs by the $uicideboy$ on Aria’s Apple music account. They have a 5-part album series called “Kill Yourself.” Along with many other artists who glorify suicide, Notorius B.I.G “Suicidal Thoughts.” There is even a group called “Teen Suicide.” I may get backlash on the music part, it is art. This is America, we have the right to express ourselves. However, this is not music our teenagers should be hearing during the Identity vs Role Confusion part of their lives.
I had access to Aria’s Instagram and Apple Music. I thought I was on top of shit, but I missed ALL OF THIS. Therefore, I am bringing this to your attention.
So why now? Why is this such an epidemic now. Geekwire.com found that 95% of teens have access to smartphones; 45% are online almost constantly. Pew researched asked teens in a survey in 2018, how social media platforms effect their lives. 31% believed it was positive, 45% said it was neither positive or negative, 24% describe the effects as mostly negative. The scary part is, we really have no true basis or understanding of how access to constant social media, YouTube, Netflix, music is affecting the Developing Teenage Brain. All we know is that this epidemic is on the rise and we must do something about it.
“According to an August 2017 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of girls age 15 to 19 committing suicide doubled from 2007 to 2015, to a 40-year high of 5.1 per 100,000. The most recent statistics for boys, whose suicide rates have always been higher, are also grim. After peaking in the 1990s and declining for a decade and a half, their suicide rate climbed by more than 30 percent between 2007 and 2015, to 14.2 per 100,000.”( Governing, Quinn, 2018)
You are such a beautiful writer Brittani! Keep expressing yourself and sharing your stories. You are powerful.
Thank you Brittani. Love you.
Hey brittani I went to ramsey wirh you. Im just floored by these tragic events and have been following you and your writings to 1) understand more about the suicide epidemic and how to ensure im on top of it with my kids and other teenagers and preetens im in contact with. 2) Just checking on you because this has had profound impact on me so I can only assume you being the mother of the beautiful and talented Aria is a diffrent level. Im sorry if I said something wrong or overstepping my bounds I just more then anything pray for your peace and strength in this tough time. Thank you for sharing