Vital answers about teen depression and suicide

The transition from childhood to adulthood is often challenging and tumultuous, and it is during this period that some teenagers and young adults first experience depression and suicidal thoughts. Sadly, depression is a much more widespread problem than most people think.

Not every young adult will suffer from depression or contemplating suicide, of course, but it’s important for parents to pay attention to their child’s behaviour as he or she gets older and to allow for open and honest communication. Parents can be better prepared to support a child who may be depressed or suicidal by educating themselves about these mental health issues.

Here are just a few of the questions that parents of young adults often have about depression and suicide, accompanied by answers from the mental health treatment centre, Yellowbrick.

Question: How do I know if my child is depressed?

Answer: It’s hard to say if a young adult is depressed or simply “going through a moody phase”.  There are no reliable indicators of an impending suicide attempt, but there are some common signs that could mean someone is experiencing depression. These might include a loss of interest in activities that your child once enjoyed, isolation from friends and family, changes in sleeping patterns (either lack of sleep or excessive sleep), changes in appetite or eating patterns, low energy levels, or sudden mood swings. Some young adults may also attempt to use drugs and alcohol to cope with depression. Substance abuse is not necessarily an indicator of suicidal thoughts, but it does increase the risk of a depressed individual attempting suicide.

Question: What might my child be going through after a suicide attempt?

Answer: It is not uncommon for young adults to experience feelings of shame and guilt after a failed suicide attempt. These feelings may cause them to withdraw from their loved ones further, increasing their actual or perceived social isolation.

Let them know that they can talk to you without fear of being judged.

Unfortunately, young adults who have attempted suicide once have a higher risk for another attempt, as the first attempt may have a gateway effect on the risk-reward center of the brain.

Question: How can I best support my child after a suicide attempt?

Answer: Because a young adult who has attempted suicide may be experiencing shame, one of the most valuable things you can do as a parent is to demonstrate your unconditional acceptance of your child. Offer to support your child in whatever way he or she needs at this time, and talk to your child about seeing a therapist or counsellor. Empathize with your child even if they are experiencing frustration and anger.  Let them know that they can talk to you without fear of being judged.

A complete guide to finding the best career counselor

With graduation nearing and the future still vaguely thought out, anxiety would take the center stage for any fourth year. For students who have mapped out every detail of their career path, researched all the possible detours and shortcuts to their target goal and planned out as many contingency plans as they can, career counselling may seem pointless. For students confident enough to take the wheel of their own future, that opinion is justified. But for people still scrambling to piece together the job life that would coincide with their self-actualizing needs, the following may prove to be somewhat useful.

Read more: How to write a cover letter that will stand out

Why career counselling?

Many people perceive career counselling to be one dimensional, but that is a misconception. In reality it is a brew of personalized solutions to individual requirements. It can act as an algorithm of sort, concentrating on weaknesses while supporting the strengths. You also learn how to to prioritize problems, and it can become a guide in the midst of midlife crises. It can also specialize in skill development, be a competent advisor, and help with job search.

Making the best choice

Once one has obtained an idea about the desired goal, one should delve into researching the world of career counselling. Consulting with people who have experience in the field- both positive and negative- would help to form realistic expectations. Reading reviews about the counselors, checking the availability of courses, comparing affordability, etc. would help to make well informed decisions.

Costing

When it comes to the pricing of career counselling, it usually varies according to the content of services being offered. It ranges from around BDT 10,000+ to BDT 30,000+. There is of course opportunity cost involved as well. In terms of time consumption as well as the scope of personal control, you may feel you have limited option.

Benefits

Thin line flat design of business leader with success idea, career opportunity for leadership development, marketing strategy winner. Modern vector illustration concept, isolated on white background.

A lot of universities generally offer courses and career counselling services. Some common areas they focus on are the development of basic skills in students. Example includes editing and writing resumes, conducting one-on-one interviews and sessions to prepare for the corporate world after graduation. They also lend a hand in linking students to suitable internships; often sending their CVs to multinational companies, banks, and other establishments—usually the kind of organizations the particular student is interested in exploring and pursuing a career after graduation.

Responsibilities of a career counselor

Some responsibilities for a career counselor may include handling queries and helping with issues about studying abroad. They also deliver information about relevant business concepts, Permanent Residence permit, Green Card, etc. Offering skill development courses in MS Word, MS PowerPoint, MS Excel, Internet Browsing, E-mailing, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Graphics Designing, etc is another responsibility.

The online scope of career counselling in Bangladesh is currently weak. It is still a very risky concept to the general population, and most students prefer to cooperate with the consultancy of career centres or senior teachers of their universities instead of seeking professional help. But it is a growing market with the potential to reach and benefit the addled students of this country trying to make sense of a future they have vaguely set up for themselves.

Do art and depression go hand in hand?

What is the image that comes to your mind when you think of an artist? Let me guess- constantly smoking, brooding over a blank canvas, contemplating every stroke of their brush and jumping up at the slightest distractions. It also makes you wonder what sort of demons they are battling on the inside to be so fitful and anxious. And if every artist you know is not in the right state of their mind, then it must tell us something, right?

It does feel like there is a connection

Kurt Cobain, the lead vocalist of Nirvana, committed suicide on April 5th, 1994, has become a prominent icon of art and depression correlation.
Kurt Cobain, the lead vocalist of Nirvana, committed suicide on April 5th, 1994.

We, as a society, romanticize mental illness. We believe that people who battle depression, bipolar disorders and schizophrenia must be so strong. Examples like Kurt Cobain, Vincent Van Gogh, Sylvia Plath, Earnest Hemmingway and Virginia Woolf only feeds into these hypotheses. There have also been studies that show a link between creativity and mental illness. For example, one study in England, conducted by the national office of statistics, found that people working in the arts industry were four times more likely to kill themselves. Another study conducted in 2013 said that authors were more prone to severe mental disorders like depression, bipolar syndrome, schizophrenia, substance abuse and many more.

Is that the whole story, though? Do arts and mental illness really go hand in hand?

Well, it might seem so, but all these studies are inconclusive.

Correlation or Coincidence?

Do art and depression go hand in hand?

A lot of external factors can come into play when it comes to a person’s mental health. There can be past traumas, genetic links, or simply a fact of a disruptive lifestyle. None of these factors can make a person more creative than s/he already is. But it seems that only the people struggling with mental issues are thriving as artists. Believing that is not completely on us, because like I said, we tend to romanticize mental issues. But according to numerous psychologists, claiming that only depressed, anxious people are more creative will be an overkill. True, art is a way of dealing with whatever hardships life throws at you. Sometimes, people who are trying to deal with all of their emotions tend to get mentally sick. They express those struggles through words, music and brush strokes.

However, there are a large number of artists who are just as creative, just as famous and they do not have any sort of apparent mental struggles. In fact, the latter might be more in number. Having a mental health issue isn’t a necessity for an artist. Sometimes it just works as a catalyst.

Call a spade a spade

Do art and depression go hand in hand?

Bottom line, the next time you see someone torturing themselves and giving excuses like “it’s for my art”, drag their behind to a shrink. There can be a deeply rooted identity crisis within these people. There is a possibility that they keep themselves miserable just because they do not know who they would be without this part of themselves.

Read more: 5 places in Dhaka to get counselling help.

Whatever the case is, these people are capable of living a healthy life filled with both joy and sadness. They don’t have to be depressed for the sake of art. Tell them that. Help them heal. And someday, they will thank you for it.