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Teens Talk, but is Canada Listening?

In response to UNICEF Report Card 14, which ranks Canada 25 out of 41 rich countries in child well-being, Canadian youth are speaking out about the issues that matter to them. UNICEF Canada is taking action to help improve the well-being of children and youth in Canada through its new initiative launching this fall, One Youth. One Youth will elevate the well-being of children and youth to a higher national priority and work to make Canada #1 on the UNICEF Index of Child well-being by 2030. To learn more and sign up for email updates on how UNICEF is working to improve the lives of kids in Canada, go here.

By anonymous, 16, Kitchener

I wasn’t sure where to start this blog post, whether it be with a personal story of my own suicide attempts or if I should jump into the threatening statistics of teen suicide and how unrighteously they are disregarded. So I decided to start it with a Google search. I ended up on the KidsHelp website and was faced with a question: Teens talk, but is Canada listening? I ask myself that now, is Canada listening?

The annual 2016 study from KidsHelp disclosed that the biggest reason that teens do not talk about suicidal thoughts or plans is because they do not feel that it is important enough (16 per cent of teens) closely followed by 15 per cent of youth who feel like they should be able to take care of themselves. At what point in a person’s childhood was it ever taught that their life is not important?

So I went on to read that one in five teens experience suicidal thoughts, 46 per cent of these youth reported that they have a plan and that girls are twice as likely to have seriously considered suicide to boys. The suicide rates are rising, yet youth are feeling increasingly more alone in their fears and struggles. Is this because of an idolatrous emphasis on being a strong and independent individual, which results in keeping our thoughts and feelings to ourselves? Or is it because we are scared of being judged and feel conscious of the glares and discerning head shakes that will be coming our way?

How does the treatment for suicidal thoughts and suicidal ideology play a role in the amount of youth who are expressing their feelings? The treatment for suicidal thoughts and attempts is strikingly minimal and results in the number of teens speaking up being even smaller.

What do youth need in order to be successful? It might be a shoulder to cry on, an environment that challenges them to be their own best rather than a societal best, therapy that is readily available and doesn’t cost extensive amounts of money or a treatment center that doesn’t have a year wait time and kicks you out after three days. Maybe Canada needs to listen to its youth because I am sure that we will speak up if the right care is shown.

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