Metro Letter about Suicide Myth

The following letter discusses the
student-suicide shooting that occurred in Montgomery County last week.
I previously explained that Shane Halligan pointed to despair over low
grades and prompt punishment from his parents that put the final nail
in the coffin, which led to his public suicide. I had moments when I
was so upset over my grades that I wanted to kill myself, but Mr. Romer
is right – there is a larger issue at hand that would trigger an
adolescent to suicide. The following is a letter to the editor from
Metro’s Tuesday, December 19, 2006 edition (p. 16):

Correct the myth about suicides

PHILADELPHIA. Regarding “Suicide rocks
school” (Dec. 13): A young person’s violent suicide death in a public
setting is surely a big story – but a dangerous one. Your coverage of
the death is misleading at best and perpetuates a myth about suicide
that has little basis in fact.

We know that such stories prominently
displayed can lead others who lead others who have thought (sic) of
suicide to do the same. Considerable research has found that such
tragic events are preceded by periods of intense mental distress, most
often diagnosable as major depression. This is far more serious than
being “despondent over his grades,” as one official – a lawyer, not a
mental health professional – speculated.

Correcting the myth that some relatively
trivial immediate event caused the death may help others in similar
shoes to get the assistance they need rather than to act on the same
impulse. — Daniel Romer

Mr. Romer is the director of the Adolescent Risk Communication Institute at the University of Pennsylvania

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