December 27, 2009

Holidays, Teenagers and Pain

One of the suggestions that came out of the reader survey I did in the last Man-Making Blog post was to invite guest bloggers to contribute to this blog. It’s a great idea and if you have an interest, let me know.

A few days ago I read a post from a friend of mine, Mike Patrick, who is the publisher of the blog, I'm Not Done Yet. Mike gave his blog that title because in 1971 he had a spinal cord injury during a high school football game. The doctors told Mike and his family his life expectancy was nine years and he would never walk again. Mike knows a lot about being a teenager and feeling hopeless. Today Mike is 54 years old and for the last 34 years has been a professional speaker, who brings a powerful message of hope to kids (and adults).

In his December 23rd blog post titled Holidays, Teenagers And Pain, Mike wrote about what could be a critical issue for some of the young people in your life. I think this post could literally save a life. I’ve reprinted it just below in case YOU could be a person to make THE big difference in a kids life during this holiday season.

According to a report by the Centers for Disease Control, " ... suicide is the third leading cause of death, after accidents and homicide, of young people aged 15 to 24. Even more disturbing is the fact that suicide is the fourth leading cause of death for children between the ages of 10 and 14." You can read the report by clicking here.

Regarding gender differences, states, "Teen suicide statistics show differences in the ways boys and girls handle suicide. While girls think about suicide about twice as much as boys, boys are four times more likely than girls to actually die by killing themselves." 

The CDC report goes on to say that as many as seventy-five percent of the young people who attempt or successfully commit suicide are suffering from depression.

I understand that kind of pain because I was there for a time after a football accident that took away my ability to walk. Fortunately, I was in no position to act on my feelings. I was bed-ridden with a pressure sores, and in the middle of multiple surgeries over a six-month period. Believe me, I saw no future in my current condition and thought the best way out was to just end my life. All these years later, I am so thankful I was not able to act on my emotions at the time.

I have spoken to thousands of young people in my presentations over the years. When young people tell me how they have made it through their own tough times, they always tell me they are also glad they didn't try to end it all. I've gotten too many letters and email like the one from an eighth grader that said, " ... I'm in the eighth grade and I thought that I was on earth for the wrong reasons so yes I was going to try and kill myself tonight. Your speech helped me and I just wanted to let you know that you saved at least one life today if not many more."

In this holiday season of big emotional highs and lows, teens are especially vulnerable. Please be aware of the young people around you who just may be having big troubles of the teen variety. Please take a little time, reach out and offer some kind words of encouragement to those you encounter. In my work with teens, I’ve learned that from the outside, you will never know how they may be feeling or how desperate they might be.

You can learn more about Mike Patrick from his blog ( and on his website at (

1 comment:

  1. Tim Wernette3:47 PM

    Wow, this is powerful and important stuff here! I talk about this in my gender presentations regarding asking for help: suicide is a desparate pleading for help, and males aren't supposed to need help or ask for it if they do. One of the reasons that males commit more suicides is because they use more violent, deadly means: girls/women are more likely to overdose (are found and rescued), while boys/men are more likely to shoot themselves or jump off a cliff (or get into an "accident", like drinking and driving). How many male "accidents" are really suicides? Thanks for sharing this with me/us!


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