How do we talk about teen suicide?

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1. How many people does teenage suicide affect?

It’s hard to say how many young people attempt to take their lives each year. The way the data is reported and collected also means that exact figures for teen suicides are not readily available.

We do know that more than 1,600 people below the age of 35 kill themselves each year, according to suicide prevention charity Papyrus. For many suicide is still a taboo subject but Papyrus says we need create opportunities for teenagers to talk more openly about it.

Newsbeat’s investigation started with the struggle of one teenager: 14-year-old Izzy Dix, who lived by the sea in Devon and took her life in 2013. But as time has gone on, it has become clear that there are many more people like her.

2. The grief of being left behind

“I don't think it's something I'll ever, ever get over,” says Izzy’s mother, Gabbi. “A lot of people tell me that I'll have to find a new normal, that I'll never be the same person because Izzy was my only child, so there's always a huge hole.”

She says she knew that Izzy was struggling with her feelings, but didn’t think suicide was even “on her radar”.

In a society which doesn’t discuss mental health, Gabbi says teenagers – as well as older people – can feel “frightened” of telling people how they feel. She adds: “When Izzy died, I didn't want to be alive but I didn't dare tell anyone that in case I was judged.”

3. An expression of sadness

Months before she died, Izzy wrote a poem called I Give Up. Her friend Nancy reads an excerpt.

One of Izzy's favourite places to go was the beach. Along with photos of Izzy, taken not long before she died, the video shows pictures of both Nancy, and Izzy's mum Gabbi, on the coast, near to where the Dix family lived.

4. The impact of suicide worldwide

Statistics around suicide including one saying 6233 people died by suicide in the UK in 2013

Samaritans/world Health Organisation

5. How do you have a 'difficult' conversation?

Naomi Gilchrist, a 22-year-old Samaritan volunteer, has advice on how to talk to people about having suicidal feelings. Click on the relevant box below.

Worried for myself

Everyone has different ways of best expressing themselves and Naomi says you should try to find the right one for you.

Naomi says

"It might be writing a letter"

Specialists agree on the first step – tell someone you trust how you feel. If you have already taken steps to end your life then seek medical help immediately.

Worried for a friend

“Normality is the best thing when someone’s struggling with their mental health,” says Naomi.

Naomi says

"Be the person you always are"

"Your friend might already have mental health professionals already supporting them and your friendship can provide some 'escapism'."

Worried for a family member

Find a safe place that you know will make it easier to talk, Naomi suggests.

Naomi says

"Have a conversation"

Talking about suicide shows you aren’t scared of the topic. "If you’re a parent, have the conversation as a parent. You’ll help to keep things feeling normal."

6. Can talking create copycat situations?

Some evidence suggests that sensational media coverage can encourage vulnerable people to copy suicidal behaviour.

Charities give journalists advice on how to minimise this risk. But when it comes to conversations with friends and family, charities say people should talk “openly and honestly about suicide”. Research has been carried out which shows that talking about it does not give people ideas, says Alexis Hesketh, from Papyrus.

"You are not going to put that thought in their head, it’s already there. By creating an environment where it’s ok to talk about suicide, you are allowing that person to know that actually there may be someone that they can talk to,” she says.