Using Literature to Help Troubled Teenagers Cope with Family Issues

By Joan F. Kaywell | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER 11
Using The TV Guidance Counselor to Study Suicide and Its Effect on Families

Jenifer A. Nields, M.D. & Anne C. LeMieux


INTRODUCTION

This chapter will explore the manifold psychodynamics and family dynamics that enter into and result from an adolescent suicide attempt. Anne Le- Mieux's novel The TV Guidance Counselor will serve to exemplify and bring to life some of these issues. Other illustrations will be culled from Dr. Nields' practice as a psychiatrist and psychotherapist. The chapter aims to shed some light on a most troubling and all-too-prevalent social concern: adolescent suicide. It aims also to suggest a means--familiarity with relevant literature--that can help troubled adolescents find solace, hope, the beginnings of understanding and the knowledge that they are not alone, and that can likewise help educators to connect with the often isolated and intensely private emotional worlds of their adolescent students.


ADOLESCENT SUICIDE: STATISTICS AND RISK FACTORS

Suicide accounts for more deaths among adolescents in the United States than all natural causes combined. It is the third leading cause of death behind accidents and homicide. The rate of adolescent suicide has been steadily increasing over the past three decades from 6 per 100,000 in 1965 to 17.8 per 100,000 in 1992. The prevalence of attempted suicide is far greater than that of completed suicide. According to one study of over 11,000 high school students, 8.3% had attempted suicide during the previous 12 months,

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