family who had had many conflicts, especially between Velia and her mother.
For quite some time, Velia felt no one liked her. She thought friends were
rejecting and telling stories about her. That sounds very simple but the
history is quite complex and a jumble of strong, disruptive emotions that are
hard to understand. It is true that she had clearly been bullied but she was no
mousey doormat. At times she was angry, mean, picking fights with others
and threatened teachers, and getting suspended from school several times.
Other girls jumped her after school. She was not a good student, missing
school often. Her siblings had their own troubles with the law. Her mood
changed quickly and often, being sweet and then bitter.
There were plenty of reasons to believe that there was boiling turmoil inside
Velia. But few tried to help. Her mother tried but it often led quickly to a
verbal or even a physical fight. Anger management class didnt help (it is
known that 60% of suicidal teens are violent toward others). She revealed to
a teacher a note about suicide but when informed her mother said she
wouldnt do that and the father didnt believe suicide was possible either.
However, she was hospitalized for 10 days or so. School Counselors seeing
her thought she had many psychological problems. Other girls continued to
reject her and some challenged her to fight. Then a new boyfriend killed
himself. A sister tried to get a suicide counselor at the school to see Velia. But
she died first. It is fairly common, as in this case, that intense problems set
the stage for suicide. Others who kill themselves are quiet, perhaps
withdrawn, and show few signs of having emotional problems or of being
Barriers to getting treatment
You may be surprised in the next several pages to read how often
suicide occurs, how often it is attempted, and how often it is thought
about. In the course of living, the frequency of suicide may not seem
high to you because many suicides are not publicly reported. Unless a
well known person is involved or the suicide is dramatic, many deaths
by this means are overlooked, covered up, or attributed to unknown
or other causes and many attempts are simply described as
accidents. The news media concentrates on the police reports of
homicides and violence or on fire reports so we are impressed with
these causes of death. The media frequently do not report suicides, so
it looks like there are fewer suicides than homicides (not true).
Actually, suicide is the leading cause worldwide of death by violent
means. It is more common than murder and dying in war combined.
Of course, most people just dont talk about their suicidal thoughts. In
uneducated circles, suicidal thoughts are sometimes felt to be weird,
crazy ideas. Sort of a sick thing to do. Moreover, families are held
responsible by many people for not preventing this terrible behavior,
thus creating even more social stress and feelings of shame for the
Why do so many depressed people avoid getting help to deal with
their suicidal thoughts? Why dont more people admit how sad they
are feeling to friends and loved ones? Why dont more sad people get
anti-depressive medicine and/or seek therapy? In large measure the
answer seems to be because of the huge social stigma against suicide