Friday, March 7, 2008

14 Teen Suicides in Wales Town in Less Than a Year

“Kids round here have been drinking, smoking dope, taking ecstasy and having sex since they were 13 or 14. By the time they reach my age they’ve done everything. The combination of booze, drugs and the boredom of living around here screws young people up so much that they think killing themselves will be exciting.” - 16 yr.-old, Bridgend, South Wales

She was 19, and yesterday she hanged herself. If her death is ruled a suicide then the number of teens who have taken their own lives in Bridgend, South Wales, and its surrounding area in the past year will have reached 14.

A local taskforce has been set up while Welsh Secretary Paul Murphy alluded to "copycat suicides" among teens in Bridgend may have begun back in 2004.

Brigend, South Wales

From the Bridgend County Borough Council website:
Shimmering surf and golden sands!
That's Southern Wales 'Golden Coast'
Hidden villages and country lanes!
That's the 'Heritage Countryside'
High mountains and stunning views!
That's the 'Heritage Hills'
Discover the drama, the beauty and the magic
The 'Glamorgan Heritage Coast & Countryside'- Source - Bridgend County Borough Council Page
But some of local teens see Brigend in a far different light, a place of boredom and no future.

“Perhaps she just got bored,” says Aaron, a 17-year-old in a hooded top and trainers. “It’s depressing living here. There’s nothing to do and we’ll never get decent jobs. The best I can hope for is to carry on stacking shelves at Tesco.”

The total population of the area of the Bridgend unitary authority covered by the South Wales police is 135,000. The main city is Bridgend with the former mining communities of the Llynfi, Garw, and Ormore Valleys, with the seaside resort of Porthcawl to the south. An area of approximately 80 square miles.

The Bridgend County Borough Council released a statement concerning the spate of local teen suicides on its website.

An excerpt:
This statement is being issued on behalf of the Bridgend Local Services Board which brings together local organisations and integrates services throughout Bridgend County Borough.

Suicide and unexpected deaths are a difficult issue which affect all communities in the UK. This is a complex problem that needs to be managed through a co-ordinated approach.

A partnership is looking at this issue and there are a number of services and initiatives which focus on the problem of suicide in Bridgend County Borough.

A Suicide Prevention Strategy is currently being developed by a multi-agency group which includes Adult Social Services, Children's Services, Education, South Wales Police, Health and the voluntary sector.

Several reasons have been posited as to why the teens decided to off themselves in such high numbers, from those "seeking a thrill", copycats, or the inability to recognize the consequences of their actions.

Ann Parry, chairwoman of Papyrus, an organization which works to help prevent teen suicide says teens “feel things more passionately and they are more impulsive and that can be dangerous. They don’t always associate suicide with being dead for ever.” And yet the 16-yr.old from Bridgend quoted at the beginning of our story seemed to be saying the opposite, that a "combination of booze, drugs and boredom" beginning at ages 12-13 have turned many local teens into jaded citizens, apathetic about any type of future.

For whatever reason these children decided to end their lives prematurely, there are parents, siblings, extended family and friends who are devastated by these teen's actions.

It is our sincere hope that the community of Bridgend has seen the last of its teen suicides. Even one death of a child is too many, fourteen is a tragedy beyond all proportion. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the parents, families and friends of each and every teenager who decided to take their own life.


Image - Suicide Club
Source - Times Online - Another teenager commits suicide in Bridgend
Source - Times Online - Suicide: a teen’s way to instant fame - Bigger, Better!.
Death by 1000 Papercuts Front Page.

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