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Youth Life!

Evading Existence
Author: Cynthia Vega-Sánchez

When the feeling of desperation and hopelessness 
becomes too much to deal with, some teens will go to 
abysmal extremes to escape the dark cloud that pursues 
them every single day. 
“Why would somebody take their own life?” is a 
question that I ask myself every morning when I wake 
up and turn to my oversized poster of Kurt Cobain 
hanging on my wall. Obviously he felt that he couldn’t 
deal with his depression and hopelessness, so he took 
his own life. 
With that in mind, I want to alert people that suicide 
is a big issue not only among teens, but also among 
Latino teens throughout California. I feel that if we 
as a society save one life then we are doing our share 
in suicide prevention.
Troubling Statistics
Every hour there are 37 suicide attempts, and 10 
percent of those end in death. Each year, 337,000 
people commit suicide, making it the third leading 
cause of death for people ages 15 to 24. More teens 
die from suicide than cancer, heart disease, birth 
defects, AIDS, strokes and chronic lung disease 
COMBINED. Thirty-three percent of suicide victims have 
made a previous attempt and evidently weren’t helped 
From 1980 to now, suicide rates among teens has 
increased 109%and every year, 10,000 Latino youth in 
California kill themselves. Latino males are five 
times more likely to commit suicide than Latino 
females, and more likely to consider suicide than 
African-Americans. The major risk factors are 
culturally related and stress due to heritage. Latinos 
feel more pressure when it comes to finding work, 
language barriers in school and dealing with all the 
prejudices and stereotypes directed towards their 
Signs of Desperation
Some of the risk factors as to why a teen would even 
consider taking his/her own life are problems at 
school or with the law, unexpected pregnancy, a recent 
loss such as the death of a loved one, a divorce in 
the family, sexual orientation or confusion or remorse 
at causing others pain. Some of the signs that 
somebody close to you may be suicidal — which can be 
difficult to spot — include abrupt changes in 
personality, perfectionism, promiscuity, lack of 
interest, significant change in personal habits such 
as eating and sleeping, use of drugs/alcohol or self-
medication, and rebellious or hostile self-destructive 
What You Can Do
If you know someone who is suicidal, reach out and 
listen; you may end up saving a life. Your goal is to 
let them vent and give them these three messages; “I 
take you seriously,” “I care about you,” and  “I want 
to help.” Ask, “Are you thinking of trying to kill 
yourself?” If yes, ask “When, where, and how?” The 
bluntness of your questions may cause the person to 
tell you why they want to die. Simple phrases like, “I 
understand,” “How can I help,” and “I’ve felt the same 
way” can assist you in case you are stuck and don’t 
know what to say. Coping strategies for stress and 
depression include being honest about your feelings, 
setting realistic goals, keeping a sense of humor, and 
asking for help if you feel overwhelmed. 
One myth about suicide is that talking about suicide 
encourages it, which is very wrong. People in crisis 
need to talk. Another myth is that people who talk 
about suicide rarely attempt it, which is also wrong. 
Out of every ten teens that commit suicide, seven have 
told someone. Suicide is an equal opportunity killer 
and it crosses all ethnic and socioeconomic groups — 
no one is immune.
But Why…?
Below is a suicide note that may help you understand 
why somebody would take his own life:
“The fact is, I can’t fool you, anyone of you. It 
simply isn’t fair to you or me. The worst crime I can 
think of would be to rip people off by faking it and 
pretending as if I’m having 100 percent fun. I must be 
one of those narcissists who only appreciate things 
only when they’re gone but, since the age of seven, 
I’ve become hateful towards all humans in general. 
It’s better to burn out than to fade away.” 
Hopefully that gives a clearer understanding into the 
mind of somebody who is suicidal. In this case, the 
person was trying to say that life just wasn’t fun 
anymore, it wasn’t worth living, and it is better to 
die trying than to flat out die a quitter. That is the 
letter of music legend Kurt Donald Cobain of the band 
Nirvana, who died at age twenty-seven (1967-1994). If 
this can happen to a famous musician with money, 
success and glory it can happen to anyone. 
As Kurt would say, “Peace, love, empathy.”