If you are in your forties, fifties, or older, you probably remember your early twenties as a time filled with friends, university, and lots of new experiences. It was a simpler time before the pressures of a career, kids, and bills made life stressful.
That is not the case for many young people today, young women in particular. Suicide rates in young women aged 20 to 24 are at their highest level in 20 years.
Why the increase in suicide among a group of people who should be enjoying this carefree period of their lives? Turns out life as a millennial comes with its own set of trials and tribulations, and it’s not an easy load to bear.
Social media may be one factor at play when it comes to the insecurities that young women face nowadays. After all, when you post to social media, do you post unflattering photos of yourself or share the problems happening with your job or family? Of course not. Young people today are exposed to only the good happening in other people’s lives, and for women who are already subject to harassment and the unfiltered criticism of the Internet, it is easy to believe that other people have it all figured out.
The aforementioned harassment comes in many forms for young women, who already tend to be vulnerable targets. On the Internet, simply posting a photo can have tons of backlash from strangers around the globe. In the physical world, women of all ages are subject to unwanted advances, non-consensual contact, and vulgar “compliments” on a daily basis.
In a time when feminism is on the rise, it would seem as though young women should be feeling more empowered than ever. Unfortunately, that does not seem to be the case. In recent years, suicide prevention has been focused on middle-aged men, who still hold the unfortunate position of most susceptible to suicide. While those campaigns have been relatively successful (the suicide rate in that demographic dropped three per cent over the course of a year), young women are still in danger of slipping through the cracks.
Social media is not the only factor at play, however. Increasing pressure at school, at work, and in personal relationships (particularly with the opposite sex) are all taking a toll on young women today. A recent survey of women in the 16-to-24-year-old age group indicates that as many as one in four young women suffer from anxiety, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, phobias or panic disorder. One in five reported self-harming at least once in their life.
It’s time to break the silence and get our young women the help they deserve. Schema therapy is an effective tool in combating issues that can lead to suicide, as is cognitive behavioural therapy. In both cases a qualified psychologist will attempt to gain a global understanding of your background before agreeing on a course of treatment with you.
If you or someone you know is exhibiting symptoms of a mental disorder, reach out. Suffering in silence has never helped anyone, and the proper treatment can potentially save a life.
Photo by Sam Burriss