Black and white thinking is a suicidal risk:

Today I just learned a friend’s teenage son committed suicide. He had graduated HS and was starting college next month. Her brother committed suicide when he was that same age.  Was it a genetic time bomb, inevitable?  I don’t believe so. When I was in HS I did a report looking up the data that 50-60% of all HS students think of suicide at some point but the overwhelming majority don’t actually do it. Often suicidal thought (not ideation as in a fixation) isn’t related to depression either. It can be fear, frustration, being overwhelmed or just the grief that accompanies any change good or bad. It is just one of the myriad of options the brain presents amongst all options available. Those that actually do it I believe are concrete in their perceptions, all or nothing, black white thinkers.

I saw two teenagers today with chronic suicidal ideation both had the same belief,  they were done. There wasn’t anything going to be new under the sun for them. They both believed that the way things were was the way that things would always be.  They thought for sure they knew!

They also thought concretely, things were either all good or all bad. No in-betweens. Neither teen had any skills in ambiguity. As reality is always ambiguous they were wrong!  Interestingly one of the two wasn’t depressed. He only described anxiety. The other one also had anxiety as his main thing but he was also  depressed.

I believe it is this black and white , all or nothing thinking that is both inheritable and the largest suicidal completion risk.   It is also related to a hyper focus. Focusing on a detail and missing the big picture. It can make one argumentative as “I am right”  “I already know that”   Tweens are all like this but by late teens the brain should be playing more with ambiguity. Things can be more than one way at the same time as in two people can be saying the opposite things and both be right.  I can be both right and wrong at the same time depending. Everything is relative and everything is imperfect. Nothing is always 100% anything. 

The Romeo and Juliet syndrome is about this. You’re my everything means when the 1 thing goes wrong and one can no longer be with the other they feel like there is nothing left. You were my  everything now I have nothing.  This is always bullshit but concrete people are more in danger of acting on it.  Romeo and Juliet were actually tweens.  Tween exclusive dating is a bad idea and risky business because they are concrete naturally in the developmental cycle. Late Teens should be over this but many are not as just because the brain has the capacity to deal in ambiguity and relativity by late teenager hood it is a learned skill and our culture is a black and white concrete culture so many never do learn it. 

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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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2 Responses to Black and white thinking is a suicidal risk:

  1. Support says:

    I think suicide is caused by social requirements and demands. HS students moving from being dependent to be independent is overwhelming. If the child is not prepared, anxiety and depression becomes a factor. The child needs to feel safe and know there is support for their decisions and choices. They need just one person to believe in them. In Romeo and Juliet, they supported each other. When Romeo thought Juliet was dead, his support system is broken. When Juliet saw Romeo is dead, her support system is broken.

    Teenage suicide is no different than another other suicide. In life, one needs a support system, either from an individual, group, or religion. Without confirmation or validation, it is a lonely world and sometimes, individuals can’t handle that.

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