#IAmWhiteChalk – Suicide and Today’s Teenagers — by Pavarti K. Tyler

Being a teenager is hard. It’s full of contradictory messages and constant confusion. To be a child and an adult in a single body was, as I remember it, a peculiar kind of hell. Compounding the normal difficulties is a culture obsessed with sexuality. It’s not surprising that so many teens mistake sex with power and confidence.

This week is National Suicide Prevention Week in the US. In White Chalk the main character, Chelle, exhibits so many of the risk factors, it can be frustrating to read her story. Why aren’t the adults paying more attention? Why isn’t anyone there for her? But the answer isn’t as easy as it seems. Chelle has resources and people who care for her, she just doesn’t know how to ask for help and consistently makes the worst choices.

Many people email me and ask if Chelle could have been saved. What actually happens at the end of the book? The answer is, Chelle could have been any of us. She could be any teen you know. Do you know what to look for?

Signs of Suicide Risk Include:

• Self-Harm (Cutting or Other Dangerous Activities)
• Substance Use (Alcohol or Drug)
• Feeling Purposelessness or Hopelessness
• Anxiety, Agitation
• Sleep Issues: Insomnia or Sleeping All of the Time
• Withdrawal from Friends, Family and Society
• Rage, Uncontrolled Anger, Seeking Revenge
• Acting Reckless or Engaging in Risky Activities, Seemingly without Thinking
• Increased or Risky Sexuality
• Dramatic Mood Changes

Watch the ones you love. Speak up. And never, ever be afraid to ask for help.

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