Suicide itself is an ambiguous and crucial ethical matter. Ethical-philosophical constituent of the problem rests upon the fact that the act of ending one’s own life voluntarily affects the lives of families, friends, and acquaintances of the deceased. The ways in which an act of suicide affects the subjects’ families, friends, and acquaintances are unstudied. However, it is argued that understanding the ways in which such bereavement affects those who encounter it may help to prevent the spread of suicide. Therefore, it is important to reconsider the whole cause-effect relationship paradigm related to suicide and suicidal behavior to ensure society’s capability of dealing with it.
Suicide is commonly referred to as an “act of intentionally ending one’s own life” (Nock et al., 2008, p. 134). Evidently, the definition proves to be vague in some ways. At the same time, there is a strict classification of suicidal behaviors. As far as the issue of suicidal behaviors is concerned, the scholars distinguish between suicide ideation, suicide plan, and suicide attempt. The World Health Organization reports that in the United States of America, annually, approximately 11 people out of 100,000 commit suicide, while in the world, this rate is even higher and accounts for 17 people out of 100,000. (Nock et al., 2008, p. 134). Suicide is number 11 on the list of leading causes of death in America and number 14 in the world (Nock et al., 2008, p. 134). It is estimated that suicide constitutes 1.4% of all deaths in the United States and 1.5% across the world (Nock et al., 2008, p. 134). Suicide is reported to occur most frequently among Native American and Native Alaskan males; the age group is ranging from adolescents and young adults.
Media coverage of suicide stories may play an important role in suicide prevention, for mass media has proved to have a powerful influence on public opinion, being a factor that controls public conscience. As far as the coverage of the issue of suicide in mass media is concerned, it is important to admit that the public has proved to be more responsive to the stories covered in television programs rather than those covered in newspapers and periodicals in general. Clearly, stories covered in television programs have relatively greater effect upon the audience than stories covered in press. However, the effect is claimed to be mainly imitative (Stack, 2005, pp. 127-128). In this regard, it is important to note that there is a great deal of inconsistency on the matter of media coverage of the suicide stories.
At this point, it is necessary to take into consideration a few recent reports of teenage suicide. Clearly, there is a need of implementation of a long-term, individual support program to help the families who have encountered such a loss to overcome grief. This, in its turn, presupposes that the suicide issues, bereavement, and treatment programs require better understanding to ensure effective and comfortable rehabilitation of families that lost a teenage family member because of suicide (Lindqvist, Johansson, & Karlsson, 2008). This is especially vital for younger siblings of a deceased person who are typically impressionable and may experience lack of attention on parents’ part (Lindqvist et al., 2008).
After a careful evaluation of a series of suicides that took place in Sweden starting from January1, 1981, through December 31, 2000, scholars arrived at a conclusion that suicide is contagious by nature (Johansson, Lindqvist, & Erikssson, 2006). With regard to this, contagion can be regarded as a factor contributing to a so-called suicide cluster formation (Johansson et al., 2006). Researchers differentiate between statistical and contagious suicide clusters. Basically, raised awareness on the matters of clustering can be viewed as one of the important preventive measures in cases when primary prevention has failed. Primary care officials, police officers, school staff, and social workers represent the social institutions whose duty is to take into consideration the risks of suicide cluster formation and inform the public about them (Johansson et al., 2006).
Taking all the aforementioned aspects of the problem into consideration, it is important to admit that teenage suicide is a calamitous and ambiguous issue. Suicide is dangerous and contagious, especially amongst the teenagers and adolescents, in a sense that it is difficult to trace its spread and it is subject to the processes of clustering. The situation depends much upon media coverage of the issue. Social rehabilitation of families who have lost a teenage family member because of a suicide is another important aspect of the problem being discussed. In this regard, the role of a general practitioner is exceptional, for it is a kind of a specialist whose duty is to ensure the implementation of support programs.