Teenage suicide:

Dear Dr. Brilliant Cliché,

Why do most teenagers between 13-15 think about suicide? It’s not because they all come from a bad or dysfunctional family. It can’t be because they don’t have enough to do or are being influenced by the media. Why? How can society help these kids in cases where suicide does not even seem to be in their thought path?


Dear Sandy,

Studies show EVERYONE thinks about suicide. They just do not do it! The human brain is like a computer. It processes ALL thoughts, inputs and possibilities. We all think of everything. There is no such thing as a bad or wrong thought; however, there IS such a thing as a bad or wrong behavior. The problem lies in when we are taught that the thought is the same as the action, that we shouldn’t even think this or that because It is bad. BULLSHIT! First, a thought and a behavior are not the same thing. Our culture ties them together but this is just not true. Where thoughts can be random, behaviors are always a choice. Second, when we are told NOT think of something, it is like throwing a wrench in a machine… we grind to a halt. Suddenly the forbidden thought draws our attention and we can think of nothing else. This mechanism of thought can cause one to dwell not only on suicide, but also in diddling children, incest, whatever. These are all thoughts that might pass through anyone’s brain, but which usually get discarded.

There is no one reason why someone commits suicide. But in my opinion it is the most selfish, narcissistic, self centered act a person can do.

People might think they are sacrificing themselves for a Noble Cause like “the family is better off without me, yada yada”… but they didn’t ask, did they? No. They assumed what others needed or thought and they ignored the big picture and possible consequences of their behavior on others.

Our culture glorifies, encourages and makes heroes out of those who sacrifice. Our culture retells stories so that it seems that the sacrifice was Noble and heroic, their death wasn’t meaningless. This of course is propaganda not for the dead person but for whoever is hijacking their story for whatever agenda they are pushing. Most suicides and murders for that matter are entirely meaningless as they are complete misinterpretations of one’s life and experience. The big picture is missed completely. Was the story really about bullying? Or was it just poor social skills in the larger picture of a dysfunctional kid’s dysfunctional family? There is always more to the story than what you see on TV or in the newspaper.

In one town I lived in, out of the blue a normal “had everything” teen snapped due to bullying and killed his teacher and 3 other kids. This was how the media told the story. Only later I learned It was really more due to a larger picture of contentious divorce.

So what can society do? I believe the no child left behind should really be NO CHILD LEFT ALONE. No child should be exposed solely to their own family, their own school, their own religion, their own neighborhood. All children should be involved in service to others/volunteerism, travel, good education, critical thinking, taught to question, taught to see the world as a duality where there need not be ONE ANSWER. This would help all children gain some perspective, be less influenced by any one group or person, be more self reliant and less product dependent. Oh, and The granny dr’s gonna add “take karate.” Some kids will commit suicide anyway. There is no ideal or perfect anything. But for the most part these interventions would grow a better nation.

Hope this answered you question,

Dr Brilliant Cliché

GD- In the case of suicide, the Granny Dr probably wouldn’t recommend martial arts.
She agrees that suicide has got to be the single most selfish, thoughtless thing a person could ever do. If you are a parent and kill yourself, you seriously damage your children’s chances for a future of their own. If you are a child, you stab your family and friends in the heart and they never recover. There is nothing noble about it, it’s the most unthinkable act imaginable.
That being said, I have another insight to offer. A friend of mine committed suicide while in a psychiatric hospital at age 17. The young Granny Doctor had many opportunities to listen to her talk up to and before this event. Sandy came from a troubled home. It had always been that way. There was something wrong inside her, something so old and so deep that she couldn’t ever imagine being free of it. I tried to say things to make her feel better but words did not penetrate. It was as if it were the color of her eyes or the whorls of her fingerprints. There was an ineffable sadness to it. I know she was selfish. I know she was fucked up. But I know something else about her too. Three weeks before she died, she saved another person’s life; someone on her ward in the hospital over-dosed and Sandy found him and got the nurses there just in time. It was a perhaps not unintentional swan song. Sandy understood the value of life. She just did not value her own life. Her reasons were a secret she took with her.
The GD does not have a conclusion. She can only say that we can never really know what another person carries inside of them or what they face when they close their eyes. She is of the opinion that we should take our coping skills and efforts towards healthy thinking very seriously. Suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in the United States. Suicides out number homicides 3 to 2. There are twice as many deaths due to suicide than there are deaths due to HIV/AIDS. Teens have a higher rate of suicide. It’s not something you can take back or undo. And it too often comes from those who seemingly had it so good.
Remember- we’re born alone and we die alone, but we live together. If more suicides had reached out, they would probably have had a chance. Our sense of community could be our greatest protection.


About Dr. Brilliant Cliché

Dr. Brilliant Cliché and the Granny Dr. are a fictional web presence and advice blog. Together we offer a joint perspective that is deep but not academic, entertaining but not fluff, and educated yet street smart. By joining the internet community we hope to share thoughts and stimulate insightful conversation around pressing issues that affect us all. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts. (This is not a site for therapy nor does it intend to replace medical or other professional care. ) You can leave comments here or email The Dr. at dr.brilliantcliche@yahoo.com and don’t forget to like us on facebook. Our facebook page is Dr. Brilliant Cliche
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3 Responses to Teenage suicide:

  1. T. says:

    We all indeed need to be “taught to see the world as a duality where there need not be ONE ANSWER.” Well put, Dr. C.
    “we’re born alone and we die alone, but we live together” Well said, Granny.

  2. A reader comments:

    I believe teen suicide is really about power and exerting ones free will when a teen feels they have no other way to do so. It’s the ultimate I win. I think all of adolescence is a form of manipulation i.e. exerting ones power.


    Dear S.,

    I agree this is certainly another possibility. The primary thing that makes us human is free will (or the illusion of it.) If violated a person will fight. (At least at first, not so if it’s removed slowly over time -see later blog on domestic violence and frogs).

    Adolescence is the task of figuring out self and others. Where do I fit in yet remain an individual. Our culture is not good at helping individuals sort this out as capitalism is all about the false promise you do not need to struggle or suffer. There is no need then to identify or solve your own needs as you can buy products that promise to do it all for you.

    Dr. B.C.

  3. Another reader points out:

    What about boredom? I recently heard a teen say her home work was so boring committing suicide would be more fun. Although I don’t know if she was serious I do believe boredom in a teen is a dangerous thing. I was so busy with responsibilities growing up I never had time to be bored. I think boredom and then suicide it’s directly related to how little we expect from our teens these days.


    Dear H,

    I agree that boredom can lead to depression and destructive behavior. I think it’s possible that it could even start a cascade of events that can lead to suicide.

    In years past, adversity left little time to be bored and everyone knew their role within the family. It is ironic that most cases, both parents sacrifice their home life in order to work to earn enough money to create a lifestyle their kids are bored with and can’t appreciate.

    A touch of adversity makes people appreciate what they have. Yes kids have it way too easy these days. If your teen isn’t involved with sports or other extracurricular activities, tell them to get a job. They need to be involved in activities that encourage behaviors that will help them to learn who they are.

    The same thing applies within a marriage. Often, only in adversity does the couple come appreciate each other. Previously they might have been bored or taken each other for granted.

    A family needs a mission, something greater than themselves to create perspective. Teens don’t come installed with perspective. That’s why they can be so unappreciative. Responsibilities are important in developing perspective.

    Dr. Brilliant Cliché

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