Thursday, January 26, 2006

Adolescent Suicides

Not uncommon is an article from a non-leftie point of view at, the web page for the SF Chronicle and Examiner. Here's an interesting column that I linked to via Newsalert. It's doubly interesting because UC Davis is about 30 minutes from my house and until I read this article hadn't heard of the UCD freshman mentioned. The first several sentences:

In a recent column about a UC Davis freshman who shot himself, I included a statistic from the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Boys commit 86 percent of all adolescent suicides.

Eighty-six percent.

The number floored me, particularly as the mother of a son. Yet not a single e-mail, phone call or letter about the column mentioned the striking statistic.

It occurred to me that if 86 percent of adolescent suicides were girls, there would be a national commission to find out why. There'd be front-page stories and Oprah shows and nonprofit foundations throwing money at sociologists and psychologists to study female self-destruction. My feminist sisters and I would be asking, rightly, "What's wrong with a culture that drives girls, much more than boys, to take their own lives?"

So why aren't we asking what's wrong with a culture that drives boys, much more than girls, to take their own lives?

She's right. Couple that with all the stories lately about how boys aren't doing as well in school as girls, and how women make up over 50% of all bachelor degrees awarded in the US, and you have to wonder why this seeming crisis is all but being ignored. We know it's happening, but nothing is being done.

What's the right answer here?

Update: Here's someone who's identified part of the problem, but I'm not sure his solution is the best one. Unfortunately, his solution (lawsuit) may be what's needed to jumpstart a serious discussion--at least in Massachusetts.

Update #2: I just couldn't believe that 86% figure quoted above so I emailed the author for a citation. Here it is; just scroll down to Youth.


Mike T said...


A study on this subject had a great quote, just put’s it all in perspective.

“When we found the girls were having trouble in school, we changed the schools.

When we found the boys were having trouble in school, we changed the boys”

Ritalin anyone?

If I ever have a kid (God help me and the kid! ;) ) I swear he gets that crap over my dead body. Any school official that recommends it to me will, to put it nicely, not like me that day.

Back to the schools, how about changes in the schools.


1. Let boys have sports that let them take their aggressiveness out (e.g. wrestling, football). Title 9 is not a cure all, more like a disease in and of itself. Many colleges dropped sports because they could loose federal funding although this is a money looser for the university in terms of ticket sales.

2. Don’t tell every boy who looks at a girl with “longing eyes” that he is sexually harassing her. Especially when too many schools will not make the same charge when he looks at him with that special look! :) Hell, for MS/HS kids this is when they start relationships. They start attempts at getting her attention, opening conversations, the successes/failures (I don’t only mean getting her to say yes to sex), feeling great and making a fool out of himself, etc. All those things that are part of normal growing up and I know the men out there can relate to “making a fool” out of one’s self.

3. For colleges (and from what I hear, some HSs now) end this crap called sensitivity training for students. When the boy really does get out of hand (e.g. pinching her in the ass after the girl has said stop it), let’s bring in the parents and say “How about you tell your young man to behave himself, not act like a idiot.

OK, I've spoken... :)

Wulf said...

After she has said to stop it? She shouldn't have to say anything, any more than I should have to warn students not to pinch my ass. It is inappropriate behavior, and the young man ought to have behaved himself the first time.

Darren said...

Yes, Wulf, he should. But people don't always do what's expected. So instead of trying to change everyone, Mike is saying to bring pressure down on the person who's actually doing something wrong. Makes good sense to me.