a 14-year-old girl leaves school and kills herself on the train tracks in Uccle
The suicide of a young person is always a tragedy. And the ASBL “Un pass dans l’impasse”, the only reference center for suicide prevention in Wallonia, unfortunately knows this problem all too well. “Adolescents represent 40% of our patient base”, immediately indicates Florence Ringlet, therapeutic director. “Before the health crisis, we were at 30%. »
She adds that if, in the past, road accidents were the leading cause of death among adolescents, today we find suicide in first place. In 2019, almost 30% of deaths among boys aged 15 to 24 were due to suicide, compared to 23% for girls. “We still have a big lag for the figures, but I think we will be faced with an increase in suicides among young people in 2022.”
Specializing in suicide prevention, the non-profit organization offers counseling and psychological interviews (081/77.71.50). And she gives us some recommendations to detect the signs and act accordingly. “With teenagers, it’s not easy because there are changes that can be observed but are part of the adolescent process,” says the psychologist. “Among the warning signs, we can nevertheless point to a sudden and persistent transformation in appearance or behavior. The repetition or accumulation of these signs will indicate the seriousness of the situation. Among the signs, I am thinking, for example, of young people who will suddenly refuse to dialogue, withdraw into themselves, stay in their room much longer, radically change their look, have eating or sleeping disorders…”
Morbid preoccupations, allusions to death, threats of suicide, mutilation, running away, dropping out of school… All of these are so many signs that put the flea in the ear. Social networks and the publications made there are also “a very good barometer”.
Florence Ringlet specifies, however, that all these signals are not always easily detectable, especially by parents. “Young people are good enough not to show it to them. Often, the alert comes rather from outside adults, from the sports club for example or from a youth movement. »
Friends are also better placed to spot them. With them, the teenager is not going to put on a mask. “The number of young people who call us to question the situation experienced by one of their friends! she exclaims. “They then try to bring us their boyfriend or girlfriend. »
In terms of the behavior to adopt once the signs have been detected, there are also several recommendations: listen, do not judge and recognize the suffering. “You have to hear the pain whatever its origin. We can even clearly ask the question whether the person has ever thought about death. We’re not going to give him the idea by talking about it. On the contrary, it initiates the dialogue. And when trust is established, we ask if she agrees to come with us to see a professional. You have to de-stigmatize. Shrinks aren’t for crazy people. »
The last recommendation is not to remain alone: neither the one who suffers, nor the one who listens. Health professionals can accompany you if the person in distress refuses all help.
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