Q&A:

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abuse

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Q: My friend’s significant other is abusive. What should I do?

A: Talk to your friend about it. Tell him/her that you are worried and don’t think the relationship he/she is in is a good relationship. Many teens deal with the issue of being in an abusive relationship and don’t know what to do. Sometimes, teens don’t realize that the relationship is abusive or that they are being treated wrong/badly. Let your friend know that you are here for him/her and you want what’s best for them. Your friend should know that love should never hurts. If somebody loves you, he/she will not treat you badly in any way (emotionally or physically). If the abuse continues or is excessive, talk to an adult and get your friend some help before things get even worse.

Q: I am turning sixteen soon and I am still getting spanked.  I am confused because my Christian faith says that I defy my parents, then I should be punished in that manner.

A: Different parents discipline their children in different ways.  Perhaps you could have a talk with your parents about how you feel about the way they go about things.  However, there is always that line between discipline and abuse.  If it seems like the spanking is getting excessive, maybe it’s time to seek help. Talk to a school counselor, teacher, coach, family friend, or another family member if you feel that the line between discipline and abuse is being crossed.

Q: I’m almost sure my step-dad is sexually abusing my little sister. How can I help her without getting in trouble?

A: You have a couple of options. You can talk with a trusted adult and get them to help you. You might consider talking to a teacher, a counselor, or a friend’s parent. You might want to talk to your Mom if you have a good relationship with her. Finally, you can make a report to child protective services by calling 1-800-632-4615 (in San Mateo County). If you are outside the Bay Area you can use this website to look up the number. You also may want to talk to your little sister and let her know that you are concerned about her. She may resist talking to you out of fear but let her know you’re there if she wants to talk.

depression

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Q: I am depressed and am thinking about telling somebody about it that can actually help me. My parents always make it worse by pressuring me into always being perfect, and if they found out they would probably treat me even worse. If I tell my school guidance counselor, would they be required to tell my parents?

A: So glad that you wrote in! Depression is such a difficult thing because it often makes telling someone, or even wanting to tell someone seem like an impossible task, so that’s awesome you’re thinking about telling someone who can help! Telling someone how we feel is one of the best things we can do when we think we might be depressed. Not only because there is help available for depression, but the actual act of talking about how we feel can, in and of itself, be very helpful. As far as what your guidance counselor is required to tell your parents, will probably depend on the school rules (and is something that you can totally ask them upfront) but it most cases they are bound by rules of confidentiality unless what you tell them involves hurting you or someone else. And if you do talk with the counselor (which we hope you do!) think about sharing about your situation with your parents because the counselor could be a really helpful resource on how to communicate with your parents about what’s going on for you in a way that could make things better for all of you in the future. Good luck! Also know you can call or come in the chat to talk about this more!

Q: How do you get support from an adult if your parent is the cause for depression/suicidal thinking?

A: Unfortunately for many people their family situations create some of the biggest problems in their lives. When you feel like you aren’t getting support from your parents, or can’t go to them, try and think about other adults you can go and talk with. Family counseling is something that is very common and helps a lot of people. You should know that you or your friend are not the only ones who have problems with their parents. Talking to a family counselor is a great option, especially if you all can go together, but even if you can’t do that going on your own can definitely help you learn to cope and get help and hopefully produce more positive interactions between you and your parents.

Q: How do you know the difference between the “blues” and serious depression where you may need help?

A: Some people think of depression as just an extreme state of sadness but there is a big difference between depression and sadness. Every person at some point becomes sad; its a natural reaction/emotion, but depression is a physical illness with many more symptoms than unhappiness. Depression isn’t something that you can just “snap out of” and often people don’t even know the reason they are depressed. Depression can last for weeks, months or even years sometimes. Depression also falls on a scale from minor to major depression. Here is a quick self-assessment of 9 symptoms. If 5 or more have been consistently present in your life over a two week period it would be a good idea to talk with your doctor or counselor: 1.) little interest or pleasure in doing things 2.) feeling down, hopeless, depressed, irritable 3.) Trouble falling/staying asleep or sleeping too much 4.) feeling tired or having little energy 5.) poor appetite or overeating 6.) feeling bad about self or that you’ve let people down 7.) trouble concentrating on things 8.) moving or speaking more slowly than usual or being more fidgety and restless than usual 9.) thinking you’d be better off dead or hurting yourself somehow
  • for more information on this topic, see the referrals page
  • Q: Is it true that taking pills for depression is the #1 cause for teen suicide?

    A:Deciding to take, change or stop medication is always something that should be discussed with your doctor. The short answer to this question is no, the #1 factor in teen suicide is actually untreated depression. Treatment doesn’t always mean medication. Many people find relief through therapy and by learning coping skills and strategies to be able to handle their depression in other ways, but medication is a popular option. Medication is not a silver bullet, it doesn’t solve every problem that’s going on, but for many people dealing with depression, it does help a lot. Depression is caused by a chemical change in the brain and anti-depressants can help to restore the balance of those chemicals. Not all medications work for every person or situation, so sometimes it may take a few tries to get the right one, which is why it is so important to be talking with your Doctor throughout the process.

    Q: My friend is sad all the time. She cries all the time. She is afraid to talk to a counselor. How can I help her?

    A:Your friend is lucky to have you. I have a couple of ideas that might help. First, would your friend go to a counselor if you agreed to go with her for the first appointment? This might make it a little more comfortable for her. If she isn’t willing to do that then perhaps she would be willing to call her local crisis line. She can reach the crisis center in her area by dialing 1-273-TALK or a youth hotline at 1-800-843-5200. If your friend refuses both of these options I would try to enlist a trusted adult to talk with her. You might consider a teacher, coach, or parent. Let your friend know that you’re worried about him/her and you want to help them feel better. You also need to be sure that you are taking care of yourself!

    Q:  I think my friend is depressed, but I don’t know what to do.  What should I say to him?

    A:  If you believe your friend is depressed, then you probably have some good reasons.  Maybe he has started to withdraw from social activities or hobbies that he used to enjoy.  Maybe you have noticed changes in his eating or sleeping habits.  Whatever the reasons, you should try to ask your friend about it.  Just tell him that you have noticed some changes and you are concerned.  You could tell him the different things you have observed that has caused you to worry.  Let your friend know that you want to talk to him about whatever it is that is bothering him.  Let him know that you are here for him and you are willing to listen to anything he wants to talk about.  You could also suggest that he try talking to a school counselor about what’s going on and offer to go with him to the counselor’s office if he wants you to.  Also, tell him how he can reach a local crisis line if he’s interested (1-800-SUICIDE or a youth hotline at 1-800-843-5200).  Keep being a good friend to him and looking out for him.  If things don’t improve or you get really concerned, you might want to talk to a school counselor or other trusted adult yourself.

    drugs & alcohol

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    Q: Why is doing drugs different from taking an anti-depressant?

    A: Many people use illegal drugs as a way to deal with their depression. The goal of wanting to feel better is a good goal, however using illegal drugs is a dangerous and ineffective long term solution. Trying to self-medicate your problems with drugs is a very dangerous combination because addiction and depression often feed off of each other in what is called a co-occurring disorder. Anti-depressants are not habit forming, which is also a major difference that should be taken into consideration. Illegal drugs can also be a direct cause for depression either by their use, or through withdrawals after stopping their use. Also taking an anti-depressant should also only done with direct consultation from a Doctor, because sometimes it takes a few adjustments or different medications to find something that works.
    Q: If you smoke marijuana, can you become paranoid?
    A: The simple answer is yes. Paranoia is one of many different effects of marijuana and its main drug delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). More information can be found from the National Medical Library.

    Q: How can I help my friend to stop drinking?
    A:Talk to your friend at a good time, when they’re sober. Express your concern for them, and tell them how you feel when they go out and drink or when they talk about drinking. Encourage your friend to talk with someone, whether it be an organization or a school counselor. Don’t accuse your friend of being an alcoholic. Accusing your friend won’t help and will make them feel threatened; most likely they’ll deny being addicted to alcohol. It’s important to encourage your friend as much as you can to seek help and tell them that you’re just concerned. However, in the end it must be your friend’s personal decision to go and actually seek help. If you want more assistance in helping your friend or need a place to go to simply talk, you can always try Alateen, which is for friends of people who are alcoholics. (source here)

    eating disorders

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    Q:  I am pretty sure my girlfriend/boyfriend is bulimic.  What should I do?

    A:  Try talking to your girlfriend or boyfriend about it.  Let them know that you are concerned and worried about their health.  Let them know that you are only doing this because you care so much.  Be sure your girlfriend/boyfriend knows that you don’t think any differently about them and you aren’t judging them because of this.  It is important that he/she realizes that you are only trying to help him/her.  Try to get your boyfriend/girlfriend to seek help for this problem.  You could research different support groups or counseling options for him/her.  If things don’t seem to be improving or your boyfriend/girlfriend isn’t getting help, let an adult know about your concerns.
  • for information on this topic, see the referrals page
  • general health

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    Q: My dad/mom had diabetes. Am I likely to get that even if I eat right and exercise?
    A: If your parents had diabetes, you are at a higher risk for it. However it does not mean that you’ll get diabetes. By being careful about what you eat, watching your weight, and exercising daily you can significantly reduce your chances of getting diabetes, especially if your parents have type II diabetes, also known as adult onset diabetes. Type I diabetes is thought to have a greater genetic component. (source)

    Q: How do people physically take care of their bodies?
    A: Diet, exercise, and staying away from harmful substances is important for anyone in order to maintain a healthy body. For more information, try Medline Plus.

    LGBTQQ

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    Q: Is being gay bad?
    A: While some people may try to make it seem as though it is, the answer to this question is no. In 1974, homosexuality was removed from the DSM, which is a book psychiatrists use to determine diseases. While the genetics behind sexual orientation is unknown, many scientists say that it is determined early in life, perhaps in the womb or perhaps in the early stages of life. Many compare it to being left-handed. Those who refer to it as being “bad” or “immoral” do so most of the time because of their own religious beliefs. While some religious groups are against homosexuality, there are many others that are okay with homosexuality. As for religion, it depends on how you interpret the words. Following with the left-handed example, being left- handed used to mean that you were possessed by a demon. They would tie the left-handed person’s left hand behind their back and force them to write with their right. Modern science later proved that the person wasn’t possessed by a demon; they were just left-handed. Perhaps this is somewhat like homosexuality today.

    Q: What is LGBTQQ?
    A: LGBTQQ (also shortened to LGBT) is an acronym for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Questioning. Quite a mouthful! To clear some things up, here are some basic defenitions of each of these. Lesbian: a woman who is attracted to other women. Gay: commonly used to refer to men attracted to other men, but can also be used to describe women attracted to other women. Bisexual: someone who is attracted to both sexes. How much they are attracted to either sex may not be entirely equal. Transgender: someone who’s gender identity does not fit with their biological sex. An example of this could be a genetically born girl who has the parts of a girl but feels like they should be a boy. Queer: an umbrella term used to encompass all those of the GLBTQQ community. It used to be a negative term but was reclaimed by the community. Now it can be used as something positive. Questioning: this term is used for someone who isn’t sure of their sexual orientation or how to label themselves.

    mental Health

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    Q: How do I help a friend who is dealing with a problem?

    A:  The most important thing is to simply be there for your friend.  Let your friend know that you are here for him/her and you are always willing to talk about the problem or whatever they are dealing with.  It is important that your friend knows that he/she has someone to talk to.  Also, be sure to really listen to your friend.  Actively listen to what he/she is saying and ask questions if you don’t understand.  Be sensitive to the issue and remember to be non-judgmental.  Your friend will appreciate knowing that you aren’t going to think differently of him/her because of this problem.  You can also refer your friend to a Crisis Hotline if he/she would prefer to anonymously talk to someone.

    Q:  Can schizophrenia be cured?  Is it treatable?

    A: Schizophrenia cannot be cured, but it can be treated. Schizophrenia affects people differently, and some people may have a worse case then others. Those with a mild case of schizophrenia may have the chance to achieve a “normal” life and only suffer a little from the disorder. Those with a much worse case of schizophrenia have less of a chance of having a “normal” life but can still be treated.Treatment tends to include a type of medicine called an antipsychotic, or neuroleptic. These medicines can be prescribed by a doctor.


    Q:  How do people get schizophrenia?

    A:   There is no simple answer as to how people get schizophrenia.  There are probably multiple causes for schizophrenia and scientists do not know all of the factors that cause this mental disorder.  Genetics, environment, and neurotransmitters are all thought to contribute to the cause of schizophrenia.

    other

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    Q: How can I volunteer?

    A: If you are at least a freshman and are able to commute to San Mateo once a week, then go ahead and fill out the application that can be found on our homepage and email it to OnYourMind@yfes.org and we’ll contact you about becoming a volunteer!

    Q: How do you make sure the chat rooms are safe?

    A: Safety in the chat room is our number one goal. The chat room is run by peer counselors under adult supervision. Chatters who violate the Chat Room Agreements, which are primarily about the safety of chatters and the chat room staff, can be muted, kicked out or even banned from the chat room. Obviously we want people to feel welcome and included in the chat room, but we will not jeopardize the safety of those who use onyourmind.net by allowing people to violate the agreements of the chat room.
    Q: What exactly do you do when volunteering at OnYourMind.net?

    A: As a volunteer you get trained and then take 1 shift per week in our Crisis Center as a moderator in the Crisis Chat Room on OnYourMind.net. We try and help teens through difficult situations by offering support and empowering them to make positive and healthy decisions regarding their issues. We help people by letting them know that it is ok to struggle, and many find comfort in talking with other teens dealing with similar issues. We encourage people to seek professional help when necessary and offer referrals and resources to make that step as easy and not scary as possible.

    Q: How much time does it take to be trained to be a volunteer for the Chat Room?

    A: Our volunteers undergo an intensive 40 hour training process that meets twice a week over the course of 5 weeks.

    Q: How can you be happy all of the time? It seems so difficult to even try being happy.

    A: I don’t think there has been anyone in the history of mankind who has been happy all of the time. Sadness is a natural part of life, something that comes and goes for varying degrees of time. It is when we become dominated by sadness, to a point where it is interfering with our life where it is important to take action. Sometimes that action can be as simple as realizing that life has its ups and downs. But other times, there is some serious stuff in our life which requires more serious action. Finding a counselor to discuss these things is a great way to see really where your at and to get a balanced and professional opinion about what changes, if any need to be made.

    Q: What do you do if your friend won’t receive help or talk to you about their problems?

    A: This is probably one of the hardest things to go through. Seeing someone we love or care about who is struggling, who doesn’t want help can be extremely painful. There can be many reasons someone may not want to talk about what’s going on, to you or someone else. One thing to definitely avoid is getting upset with them. You can assure them that you care, and let them know that you’ll always be there if they ever decide they want to talk about what ever is going on. If you’re really worried about them hurting themselves or someone else, that is the time when you should go ahead and talk to an adult for them.

    Q: How many people call the Crisis Line per day?

    A: It definitely varies from day to day, but it’s not uncommon to get 60-100 calls in a day.

    Q:  How confidential is the phone line?

    A:   Our phone line is completely confidential.  You can tell us your name if you want to, but if you aren’t comfortable doing so, then you don’t have to give us your name.  You can give us a nickname or other name if you prefer, or simply not say your name at all.  The phone line is confidential and the volunteers who work the phone line are trained and agree to keep all information that they hear while working the phone line confidential.  The point of the phone line is to give you someone to talk to.  So if you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed or something is going on, feel free to call a crisis hotline and just vent.  It’s anonymous and they are here to help!

    Q:  How do you decide which questions get answered on this page?

    A:We would like to address all the questions we get, but unfortunately, we cannot.  That being said, we look over all of our questions and see how different they are.  Many times, we get the same question from many different people.  If many people are asking about a certain topic and it is not already addressed on our website, then we try to go ahead and answer that question.  We try to choose questions that affect many teens in order to help the largest number of people.  We also choose questions that are not answered anywhere else on our website.

    relationships

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    Q: Why does every family have it’s own struggles/problems?

    A: Every family definitely does have it’s own struggles. Being a teenager can be really difficult not only because we are experiencing so many changes chemically and physically in our bodies, but we are learning how to become ourselves. Many families struggle with how to transition from their kid being completely dependent on them to gaining their own independence. But there are many other problems that families and know that there are many ways that you can get your family help. Family counseling can be very helpful to help the members work through the issues that are causing tension. Also if you are worried that the problems going on may be qualified as abusive you can call the Domestic Violence hotline at 1800 799-SAFE (7233)

    Q: Can you go on the website to help out a friend?

    A: Definitely! That is a great idea. We would love to talk with you and brainstorm ways to help your friend, and having been on it yourself is a great way to encourage them to check it out as well!

    Q: I went out with a guy, but we broke up. We still talk and get in fights; and I still really like him, but I don’t know if he still likes me. What do I do?

    A:  The best thing to do in this situation is to be up front with the guy.  If you really like him and want to get back together or work on your relationship, then you need to know if he feels the same way.  You can try talking to him one day and just being honest with him about how you feel.  Tell him that you still like him and want to know whether or not he is interested in going out again.  If he is, then you might want to try and figure out what causes you two to fight.  If the fighting occurs fairly often, you both may need to work on things in order to make the relationship more enjoyable and to prevent future problems.

    Q:  I’ve been dating this guy for about a month and a half.  We only talk to each other sometimes.  I really like him.  Does he really like me and is afraid to show it or what?

    A:  I would say that he must like you because he’s going out with you!  And since you two have been going out for over a month, I would think that he likes you.  Maybe he is shy and doesn’t know how to show that he likes you.  He might be embarrassed to show his emotions or afraid that others will look at him differently or tease him because of his feelings.  Maybe you could try talking to him about it.  You could start by telling him that you like him and are glad that he is your boyfriend.  That might give him the opportunity to tell you how he feels about you.  Don’t be afraid to ask him about his feelings.  Just tell him you want to be sure he is happy with the relationship and you would like to know that he cares about you, too!

    Q:  There is a guy I love who is treating me very badly.  My friends say I deserve to be treated better.  What should I do?

    A:  First off, love never hurts!  You should never ever be treated badly (emotionally, verbally, or physically) by someone who loves you.  That isn’t love.  If your friends have told you that you deserve to be treated better, then I’m going to have to agree with your friends on this one.  Your friends know you well and want what’s best for you.  They are obviously concerned about you and the way this guy is treating you.  You may want to seriously consider ending your relationship with this guy and putting some space between the two of you.  Give yourself some time to think about things and figure out exactly what you want to do.  Hang out with your friends and enjoy yourself!  You could also talk to this guy.  Tell him about the concerns your friends have and tell him that you know he doesn’t treat you well.  Maybe he could seek help for any issues he has that might be causing him to act this way towards you.  If he isn’t really to work on his problem, then I would suggest you focus your time and energy elsewhere.

    Q:  My boyfriend has been talking to one of my guy friends about breaking-up with me.  He hasn’t called me or said anything to me about wanting to. I’m worried our relationship is going down hill and I don’t know how to fix it. Can you help?

    A:  The best thing to do would be to ask your boyfriend about this.  You don’t have to tell him that your guy friend told him what he was talking about, but you could express your concern that you’re worried the relationship is going down-hill.  Tell him how you feel about him and let him know that this relationship is important to you.  Ask him if there is anything bothering him or if there is anything he can think of that will improve your relationship.  Take action now and see if things can improve before it gets beyond repair.  If you do tell him what your guy friend told you, you might want to ask your boyfriend why he would talk to one of your friends about this, instead of just coming to you and talking to you about it.  Let him know that you are willing to talk about any concerns he might have about your relationship and you would appreciate if he came to you to talk about it.

    Q: I don’t think my sister’s boyfriend is good for her.  I think she deserves better.  What should I do?

    A: Its always hard when you see someone close to you in what you think is a negative relationship. There are a number of things that keep someone in a negative relationship. Many times they are blinded by their affection/history with the person and are unable to see the negative aspects. Sometimes they fear there is no other options available if they were to leave the relationship, and are convinced that the person will be able to change their bad habits. Make sure that you are clear about what you see as problematic in the relationship without coming across as demanding or judgmental. Also emphasize that the reason that you are bringing it up in the first place is because you care and are concerned for them. Make sure that you give them a chance to speak and that you hear them out. If you feel that it is a bad relationship but they are not in danger and your sister won’t listen to you, you may just have to sit back and be supportive of her until she can see for herself how bad it really is. But if she is in danger in the relationship or if there is abuse going on, be persistent with your efforts and don’t be afraid to talk to someone else about it.

    resources

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    Q: Where could I find a counselor?

    A: That is a great question. 1 (800) 273-TALK is a national number that will direct you to the local Crisis Center in the area that is part of the Lifeline Network. Also looking up your local crisis center and calling them directly would also be a good idea. If you’re comfortable talking to your parents that would be a good idea since some insurances have restrictions on counselors, and finding one that accepts your insurance could be very helpful. If your school has a school counselor they would also be a good resource who could either help you directly, or refer you to a counselor outside of the school. Also since you already have access to the computer, there are many websites that have directories of counselors and looking up a few in your area and calling them directly is a great way to find out more specifics like cost and what sessions are like. If you are from San Mateo County, you can call the YFES counseling clinic at (650) 591-9623 x130.

    Q:What if you’re not sure how to get help?

    1(800) 273-TALK is available 24/7 and is anonymous, toll free and specializes in referring people to resources and organizations to get them the help they need. But also talking to school counselors, teachers, coaches, parents or other trusted people in your life is a great first step in getting help.

    self-harm

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    Q: How does cutting yourself help??

    A: There are many reasons that people use self injury (which is discussed below under the question “Why do people cut themselves”). But one thing that can help understand self injury is to think about how some people when very stressed out or angry turn to things like exercise or sports. Many kids will play extra hard at football practice and hit harder on a bad day to relieve their stress. Other kids will grab a skateboard and skate harder than ever before. Other people will exercise to the point of pain and exhaustion. These are all similar to self injury, except are more socially acceptable (which could be because they offer other benefits than just the stress relieving pain). Not to say that everyone who self-injures just needs to find a way to disguise it better, I just wanted you to make the connection that self-injury isn’t that foreign of a concept. When the body experiences pain, it releases brain chemicals called endorphines that is one of the reasons people experience relief/escape from pain. When the goal for a self injurer is to relieve their pain/stress, that is a great goal, but a goal that they are trying to solve in not a very healthy way. Intentionally hurting oneself (such as cutting) can be addictive and do major social, emotional and physical damage to the self-injurer, which is why we want to help them to replace self-harming habits with less damaging ones.

    Q:  Am I crazy for cutting myself?

    A:  No, not at all!  You are not alone.  Many people, especially teens, cut themselves to deal with the emotional or psychological pain they are feeling. Sometimes people do it just to feel alive because they normally feel so numb.  While this isn’t a healthy way to deal with your stress or pain, you are definitely not crazy. Cutting is unhealthy, not only because of the actual harm done to your body, but because it can become an addiction that you build up a tolerance too. So as you rely on self-harm more and more, you may have to cut deeper or more often to get the same relief as you got before. And at some point cutting may suddenly stop giving you the relief you seek, which is a dangerous situation when someone feels they have lost all ways of controlling their pain. Wanting to relieve stress is a great goal, but self-harm is not a good long term solution which is why we would love to try and help you find other ways to deal with whats going on. Read the other questions and check out our referrals page for more info/help!

    Q:  What is cutting?

    A:  Cutting is the most popular form of direct self-injury.  Cutting is injuring yourself on purpose by making cuts (breaking the skin and making it bleed) on your body with a sharp object.

    Q:  Why do people cut themselves?

    A:  It might be hard to understand why someone would cut themselves.  Cutting is viewed as a way for them to cope with whatever it is they are going through.  People who cut typically do so to deal with some sort of emotional or psychological pain they are in.  Some people may feel extremely overwhelmed and/or stressed out and they are searching for some sort of relief from these feelings.  Some cutters say they experience a sort of gratification from cutting.  Some describe it as an emotional gratification, others describe it as a form of sexual gratification.  Some people may, in a sense, enjoy the pain and, therefore; get gratification from cutting.  Many times, the cutter feels some sort of “release” after he/she has cut.  It is way for them to put a physical pain to the emotional pain they might feel.  Some people cut because it then gives them something else to focus on. Other people cut because they feel numb all the time and want to feel something even if it is pain. After cutting, they can focus on the physical pain and avoid thinking about the emotional pain.  People who cut often don’t know how else to deal with the intense emotions they are feeling.  Because they do not know how to cope with the stress or pain, it builds up and that tension continues to build.  Cutting seems to be a way for them to deal with that tension.

    Q:  What do you do if someone is cutting and they won’t talk to you about it?

    A:  Sometimes people are afraid to tell people about their cutting because they don’t want to be judged or looked at differently.  Other times, the person may feel like what he/she is doing is no big deal, and especially when they feel that it works for them and is keeping them from doing more harm to themselves.  It’s good that you tried to confront the situation and get the person to talk to you.  You can let them know that you don’t think they’re crazy for cutting and that you understand they must be hurting or suffering somehow and that you are there for them if they want to talk.  If the person still won’t talk to you about it, you might try to refer him/her to a crisis hotline or chat room so he/she can maybe talk anonymously to somebody else about the problem.  If the person continues to refuse help and you are concerned, you should consider telling a trusted adult.  You could speak with a counselor, a teacher, a parent or other family member, or any other adult that you trust.  Try and find an adult who will be sensitive to the situation, especially if the person is not suicidal, but using cutting as a means of coping or dealing with their problems.  Also, by telling an adult it will help lessen some of the stress that you are feeling and you can share the responsibility with an adult.

    Q:  How can I help my friend from cutting?

    A:  Try talking to your friend about why he/she cuts.  Let him/her know that you are here for him/her and you are willing to talk and listen.  Many times, cutting is a coping mechanism people use and they prefer to focus on a physical pain instead of an emotional pain.  You can suggest other things for your friend to try in place of cutting.  For instance, some people who are trying to stop cutting will wear a rubber band around their wrists and when they feel the urge to cut, they will snap the rubber band a couple of times.  That can help provide some of the physical release that cutting might give.  Check out our referrals page for some more resources!

    sexual health

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    Q:  How do you know if you are ready for a sexual relationship with a yearlong boyfriend?

    A:  Unfortunately, there aren’t any real concrete signs as to whether or not you are ready.  Make sure you know yourself and think about whether or not it feels right to you.  Think about the other person and how well you know him/her.  Also, think about your feelings for this person and whether or not you truly care about him/her and trust him/her completely.  Make sure you know why you thinking about taking this step.  Don’t do it for anybody else and be sure you aren’t feeling pressure to do it…this is your decision.   Sex doesn’t happen on a time line so just because you have been together a certain amount of time doesn’t mean it’s time to have sex.  Be sure you know exactly why you want to have sex and make sure it is worth it.  Also, know all the risks that come with being sexually active (HIV/AIDS, STDs, pregnancy) and be sure you know how to protect yourself from these risks.  Be sure you realize that there is nothing that will 100% protect you from these risks except abstinence!  Like I said, there is no real “sign” that you are ready.  This is a big decision and you just need to take your time and consider everything.

    Q:  What can I do to help my best friend who is 16 and having a baby?

    A:   The best thing you can do for your friend is to be there for her.  This is going to be a rough time for her, physically and emotionally.  She will need a reliable, caring friend who she can turn to for support and encouragement.  It’s hard when you’re young and having a baby.  Some people may say mean things about you or gossip about you.  That is why it is so important for you to just continue being the best friend you can be and to let her know that you are here for her if she needs anything. Help her to connect with resources in the community to ensure that she and her baby will be healthy as well as be able to plan for the future. Check out www.firstresort.org

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    Q: What can one do to make oneself feel better?

    A: If you have a lot of stress in your life, it’s important to find effective coping mechanisms to help deal with that stress. Coping mechanisms are anything that are safe and help to reduce stress. For example an effective coping mechanism for one person may be to write everything down that they have to do, and then systematically do everything on the list. Then maybe that person will do something relaxing like talk with a friend or read a book. Another coping mechanism could be playing a sport that you enjoy or taking a quiet walk. It’s important to find time for yourself so that you can push away the stress of the day. Effectively dealing with stress prevents suicide.

    Q: What can I do to stop from feeling suicidal when I am dealing with a lot of stress?

    A: The best thing you can do is to talk about it. Talk to someone you trust and feel that you can confide in. You can talk to a close friend, family member, or anyone else you feel close to. If you don’t want to talk to anybody in your life or feel you don’t have anyone to talk to, call a Crisis Hotline or visit our youth chat room so you can talk to someone anonymously. Keeping your emotions and thoughts bottled up inside won’t do you any good. Not talking about how you are feeling will probably only make the feelings intensify or make you feel worse. Also, engage in some (healthy) activities that you enjoy. You can listen to music, write, exercise, or hang out with friends. Engaging in a healthy activity that you enjoy is a good way to cope with your stress and it can help to reduce some of your stress. Remember to practice engaging in these positive/healthy activities so that you can proactively deal with your stress and prevent that overwhelmed feeling you may experience at times. This can help prevent the suicidal feelings caused by too much stress. Also, by talking to someone about what you are dealing with, you will be able to get your emotions out and that can help you deal with some of the suicidal feelings you might be experiencing.

    suicide

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    Q: Why wouldn’t someone want an adult to know? Why don’t they ask for help?

    A: Unfortunately sometimes when someone feels suicidal they feel very alone. They might feel guilty or bad for thinking about suicide and therefore not want anyone to know. Also sometimes people can think that there’s no one out there who wants to help them. Other times people are scared that an adult will overreact. Or maybe they’re convinced that there’s nothing that can help them so there’s no use trying. But there are ways to prevent suicide, and when people do seek treatment suicidal thoughts do go away. If you feel like you don’t have an adult you can trust and talk to, the Crisis Line is open 24/7 at 1800 273-TALK

    Q: What are the statistics of suicide globally?

    America does not have the highest suicide rate in the world (22/100,000), according to the World Health Organization Belarus has about 73 suicides per 100,000 people. For a complete list of Suicides per country check out the WHO Global Suicide Statistics.

    Q: Is it true that most teen women kill themselves because of unplanned pregnancies?

    A: An unplanned pregnancy as a teenager can be very terrifying. There are a lot of uncertainties and fears that one can expect. Also almost 20 percent of women will experience some from of depression while pregnant with 10 percent of these women experiencing major depression. Whether depression is caused by the pregnancy or not, it is important to address because depression is the number one factor for teen suicides. It is very important to seek out support and services as a pregnant teen to ensure your health as well as the babies. Dial 211 or check out www.211.org for more help with finding resources.

    Q: How do people feel after attempting suicide?

    A: Just as there are a wide range of reasons that could make someone think about suicide, there are a wide range of feelings someone can feel after a suicide attempt. Commonly people will feel extremely tired along with feeling angry, embarrassed or ashamed. Statistically those who do attempt suicide are at a higher risk for another attempt so it is important to seek help. Check out the AAS resources for Suicide Attempt Survivors for information for consumers and families.

    Q: Why do you have to tell an adult?

    A: Telling an adult is one of the best ways that you can get the person that you’re worried about confidential help. Make sure it is someone you trust who you know is going to take you seriously and be able to get help. If your friend is suicidal but doesn’t want help, you should know that it is OK to go ahead and tell an adult. Suicidal feelings do go away when you get the proper treatment, so even though your friend might be convinced there is no other way, you can help them by getting an adult involved!

    Q: What are some conversation starters for talking to a friend that you feel might want to end their life?

    A: That is a great question. You definitely want to try and come across as non-judgmental as possible. If the person does get defensive you should try and assure them that you weren’t trying to be nosy or offensive, but you were simply worried about them and wanted to make sure they were ok because if you were feeling really bad you would want someone to ask how you were doing. Simply asking how they are doing is a good place to start. Then you could maybe talk about something you noticed them doing or not doing that caused you to worry. If they’re talking about problems or stuff going on you could ask if any of it has made them wish they weren’t around anymore. Also you could say it’s common for people who are dealing with a lot of problems/pain/stress in their life to think about wanting to die, has that ever crossed your mind? If you have ever had suicidal thoughts yourself, that could be a great thing to share, to let them know that they’re not the only ones who’ve thought that way and that they’re not crazy for thinking about it and help them to open up to you. Good luck! Remember you’re asking because you care!

    Q: How can you bring up the topic of suicide without seeming really pushy or demanding like their parents?

    That’s great that you recognize that you don’t want to be pushy or demanding. And I think that is a great thing to say to them. That you don’t want to be pushy or demanding but that you’re worried about them. If you’re talking about stuff going on in their life already, you can just simply ask if they have ever thought about ending their life. And if they don’t want to respond or get defensive you can say sorry, you don’t want to be pushy or anything you just cared enough to ask and that if you were really struggling you’d want someone to do the same.

    Q: How can you prevent suicidal thoughts?

    A: It’s normal for someone to think about suicide when they feel hopeless, helpless, overwhelmed or like a burden to others. Also, simply wondering what would happen, casually thinking about suicide is also very common. But when they are a constant presence, something that is troubling you often then it is important to talk to someone about it. Treatment does exist and does work to help people stop thinking about suicide. The first step in that process is talking to someone about it. Try calling a Crisis Line to get connected to someone that can point you in the right direction.

    Q: Why are we, the smartest of all the species, the most suicidal?

    A: That is an interesting question. Though suicide does occur in nature, it is more often done for the protection of others, while the majority of human suicides are more internally motivated or focused. Suicide is a consequence of the pain/suffering/stress of someone’s life exceeding their coping resources. And while our smartness does not prevent us from experiencing suffering, it has helped many realize that suffering is inevitable and that there are things that we can do about it. The hardest part though for many people is realizing that it’s normal to be in pain, or overwhelmed and that in those times its important to reach out for help. Help for suicidal thoughts does exist and does work if one is willing to reach out for help.

    Q: Is it EVER okay to commit suicide?

    A: Suicide is a very complex issue because there are always multiple factors involved in someone’s decision to end their life. It is also complex because while it is something inflicted on a person by themselves, a suicide on average deeply affects 6-7 other lives. So this is a question that can’t really be answered without specific context and then exploring all the options and resulting consequences for the individual and their community.

    Q: Is there such thing as rational suicide, like for those who are terminally ill?

    A:This is a good question, and one that is complex and controversial, but there are some very helpful facts about suicide by people who were terminally ill that people often miss. Rigorous studies have shown that, for people who either were or thought they were terminally ill and chose to die by suicide, at least 95% were suffering from a treatable psychiatric disorder, but most did not receive treatment for their disorder. Also studies have shown that suicidal individuals, terminally ill or not, are almost always clinically depressed which heavily interferes with rational decision making. Thus it is very important to consider what is driving the thoughts for suicide, because in many cases when the depression or other disorder is addressed and treated, the desire for death by suicide often goes away. (Choosing to Live by Thomas Ellis and Cory Newman)

    Q: How do you deal with the guilt of a friend committing suicide?

    A: Losing a friend or loved one to suicide is really hard. There’s always a lot of unanswered questions and doubts. A lot of people feel that they didn’t get a chance to say what they needed to before the person was gone. One way people get closure and deal with guilty feelings is to write out a message to them and burn it, or post it somewhere, often writing on a person’s facebook wall or sending them a message can be a great way to say those words you weren’t able to before. Losing someone close to you to suicide is also really painful, so its important to grieve properly. There are many support groups and counselors that specialize in grief counseling, and it is important to grieve fully and not bottle up your emotions.
  • for information on this topic, see http://www.survivorsofsuicide.com/
  • Q: What percent of Suicides are hangings?

    A: According to the American Association of Suicidology (suicidology.org) Suffication/Hanging represents 23.6% of all suicides in 2007 which is the most recent year for suicide statistics. Firearms or guns were the most commonly used method representing over 50% of suicides.

    Q: What are the benefits of calling the Crisis Line?

    A: There are many great reasons to call the Crisis Line. One of the main reasons we exist is to help get people through the those really tough times when they feel that suicide is their only option. But there are also tons of other benefits and reasons people call. We get calls everyday about non-suicidal problems and crisis which we help people to work through. Sometimes that means just listening and letting people vent, other times it’s offering problem solving tips or even referring them to more specific organizations and referrals that specialize in the problem the caller is having. A lot of times people like calling us because calling is anonymous, confidential and a place that they know someone will listen, be supportive and won’t judge them, and we are happy to help. Also people call when they are worried about someone else and we can help them to find the best ways to support and/or help the person they are calling about.

    Q: What advise would you give to someone who has tried to commit suicide because of not liking or getting along with their dad?

    A: Problems with parents and teens are as old as time. Some of it is just the natural friction of growing older and becoming more independent while still in a dependent situation. But of course there are some more severe issues that can come up between a Father and son/daughter such as physical, verbal and sexual abuse. Sometimes its tough to figure out if a situation is really wrong or not because families can be confusing which is why its important to share those things with a trusted adult. Teachers, Counselors, Therapists, Sports Coaches, and Religious leaders are all great people to talk to who can get you the help you need and deserve. So addressing exactly what is going on in the relationship is important but then its also important to address why that person feels suicide is the only way to solve the problem.

    Q:  Why would someone want to commit suicide?

    A:  Suicidal people typically feel overwhelmed, stressed, and may be experiencing emotional or psychological pain.  They have so much going on and they don’t know what to do about the situation they are in.  Many times, they aren’t thinking clearly and cannot see any other way out of the current situation they are dealing with.  They may have tried other coping mechanisms, but nothing seems to work so they don’t know what else to do.  Suicidal people resort to suicide as a last resort.  Things don’t seem to be getting any better for them and they feel that there is nothing they can do but kill themselves.  Many times, they view death as simply a consequence of ending the pain they are in.  It’s not that they want to die or to end their own lives, but they want that pain they are feeling to end.

    Q:  My friend said he/she is feeling suicidal and told me not to tell anyone, but I think he/she is really serious; what should I do?

    A:  Tell a trusted adult.  I know it might be hard because you promised that you wouldn’t tell, but if you are really worried and think your friend is serious, you need to get help and you need to get it fast!  Tell a teacher or counselor at school or a family member…anybody you can trust and feel comfortable talking to about this situation.  Your friend might be mad at you for telling someone, but would you rather have your friend mad and alive or dead?  If you don’t tell someone and get your friend help, you might lose him/her forever.

    Q:  Do girls commit suicide more than boys?

    A:  No, males actually commit suicide 4 times more often than females.  However, females attempt suicide 3 times more often than males.

    Q:  If a person says they want to kill themselves, will they?

    A:  The short answer is yes.  If a person threatens suicide, you should take it seriously.  It’s never funny to joke about committing suicide.  Many times, suicidal people tell someone they want to or are thinking about killing themselves.  In fact, 70% of people who commit suicide actually told someone they wanted to do it and for some reason or another, they did not receive help and went through with the act.  Because you can never be sure if someone is serious or not, you should take every threat of suicide seriously.

    Q: What age groups have the most suicides?

    A:  The elderly are actually most at risk for committed suicides and have the most completed suicides out of the age groups.  This could be because as you get older, the tendency to have health problems increases.  Also, as you get older, you might lose other close family members and friends due to old age/death, so that support system might be weakened.  However, young people/teens are most at risk for attempted suicides.  So they have the most attempted suicides out of all the age groups.

    Q:  What are the warning signs of suicide?

    A:  Warning signs include cutting/self injury, writing a will or giving things away, saying “goodbye” or “I love you”, threats of suicide, drug/alcohol abuse, drastic changes in mood, and depression.  Symptoms of depression can include: changes in eating/sleeping habits, isolation, withdrawal, feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and worthlessness or despair, feeling lonely, and no longer getting enjoyment from activities that you used to enjoy.Please remember that none of these things mean someone is suicidal.  But the more warning signs that are present, the more at risk that person is considered to be of committing suicide.

    Q:  What is the best way to deal with someone who is suicidal?  What should I do if I think my friend is suicidal?

    A:  The best thing to do to help a suicidal person is to TALK to them about it.  Be upfront, honest, and straightforward about the topic.  Don’t be afraid to say the word “suicide” or to ask them if they are suicidal.  Talking about suicide doesn’t hurt the person!  Many times suicidal people want someone to talk to, but they are afraid or don’t know who to turn to.  So, talk to the person and let him/her know that you are here and willing to talk about anything, including suicide.  If they don’t want to talk to you about it, you can refer them to a crisis hotline and that way they can talk to somebody anonymously.  Or you can call a local crisis hotline and get some resources for your friend.  You can ask the people at the hotline to give you some referrals to different counseling options or support groups.  It might make things easier for your friend if you do some of the work for him/her.  Finally, if you are worried about someone being suicidal, you need to tell a trusted adult!  You can tell a parent or family member, a teacher, counselor, or any other adult that you trust and can talk to.  It’s a lot of stress worrying about someone being suicidal and it is too much for one person to handle.  Telling an adult not only helps your friend, but it can also relieve some of your stress, too.

    Q:  If a person has already attempted suicide, do you think they will try it again?

    A:  Yes, if a person has attempted suicide in the past, he/she is 40 times more likely to reattempt suicide.  It doesn’t mean they will definitely attempt again.  Perhaps after the past attempt they got help and are now able to deal with things in a more positive, healthy way.  If that’s the case, then they may never attempt suicide again.  However, if they are still struggling with some things and don’t know how to cope, then they may attempt again.

    Q:  What’s the most common way people attempt suicide?

    A:  The most common method used to attempt suicide is by overdosing on drugs/alcohol.

    Q:  How many suicides are there a year in the U.S.?

    A:  There are approximately 34,000 suicides committed in a year in the U.S.
     
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