Canada in a Youth Suicide Crisis Situation
The idea of youth committing suicide mystifies our societal logic. We do not understand the reasons why youth -normally associated with energy, determination and possibilities- turn to such a final act as a solution. Suicide eventually enters all of our lives, either directly or indirectly. However, the situation becomes more cruel and unfair when a youth commits suicide. We can not help but think of the opportunities and potential lost so swiftly for one so young. Although adolescent suicide is a current crisis in today’s Canadian society, youth for all of history and in all cultures have resorted to this ultimate form of self-destruction. Clearly we have and always have had, a teenage dilemma needing desperate attention. Canada is currently in a youth suicide crisis situation. Our suicide rates are above that of the United States as well as other auspicious countries. For example, in young men aged fifteen to nineteen, the rate of suicide “is 60 percent higher than in the United States.”1 UNICEF has declared that adolescent suicide is Canada’s major tragedy. Our youth are unable to cope and unable to successfully find the kind of help they need to help themselves. The results are tragic and unnecessary.
Youth take their own lives for a plethora of reasons, although none of these reasons should actually constitute an attempt at suicide. What is it then, that brings a teen to commit suicide? What factors lead to suicidal tendencies on the part of the adolescent? The enigma of youth suicide is multidimensional. As we will discover herein, the major theories on youth suicide can be categorized into three fundamental causes. Adolescent suicide is the result of one, or a combination of an individual’s sociology, psychology and biology.
Sociology is the study of human social behavior, especially the study of the origins, organization, institutions, and development of human society. It is therefore important to look to sociology for answers concerning suicide and suicide prevention.
Sociological theories of suicide emphasize the role that society and culture play in this kind of self-destructive behaviour. Such theories generally focus on either social structures or social situations.
The first sociologist to theorize on suicide and its sociological interpretations was Emile Durkheim. Durkheim worked during the late 1800’s identifying social structures as the key determinant in self-destructive behaviour. In his work Suicide: A study in Sociology, Durkheim stated that “suicide rates increase when a society’s value system breaks down.”2 Durkheim believed that the shared values of a society and the mechanisms in place that ensure that its members adhere to these values, is interpreted as a person’s “social structure.” Durkheim suggested two basic factors in social structure that heavily influence the incidence of suicide. These are regulation and integration. He believed...