The Alarming Reality of Teen Suicide in Chicago

By David Astudillo and Esther Ma

This pie chart shows the methods of suicide in teens

Marissa, a 20-year-old UIC student, has dealt with depression and constant anxiety throughout her teenage years. She says mixes of anxiety and depression were catalysts in her low depressive states, which led to her attempting suicide.

“I would get mental breakdowns but they were rarely strong enough that I would actually do something about it, you know?” she said. “Normally what I would do is if I get like a really bad I don’t know if I would call it an attack if I was about get like if I would have like a mental breakdown. 

“What I would do is I would like just lock myself with my closet. And just like I would just like lock myself in my closet and I would close the door and I would drop all the lights. And I would just sit in my closet alone in the dark.”

Marissa said the thought of ending her life was constantly on her mind. But she is not alone. These suicidal urges can not only be seen through her but through many teens in the United States.

According to Illinois State Board of Education and 2017 Illinois Youth Risk Behavior Survey, suicide is the second-leading cause of death for teens in the United States. According to the study, 17.2 percent of Illinois high school students had seriously considered attempting suicide during the past 12 months prior to taking the Spring 2017 survey. Ten percent attempted suicide one or more times during the previous 12 months.

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, 47,000 Illinois youth reported attempted suicide in 2015. 

Joanna Strokoff, ph.d, a licensed staff psychologist and assistant director for outreach at the UIC Counseling Center, works with a range of ages at the counseling center has seen many circumstances surrounding teen suicide cases.

“I’ve seen some themes related to anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation among young adults,” Strokoff said. “I’ve seen is a common link between suicidal ideation and feeling socially isolated, hopelessness about the future, or feeling like a failure.” 

UIC Counseling Center at Student Services Building at UIC
Photo by Esther Ma

For Marissa, she said her long series of depression is what would set up the isolation which she was feeling at the time. This isolation is was something which she felt that she had no control over and made it difficult for her to seek help when she needed it the most. 

“At that time, I wasn’t really talking to anyone about how I felt…and I would just have really bad mental breakdowns,” Marissa said. “So, when they would get really really bad I would just act on it.”

But she opposed seeking help.

“I did not want any help from my parents,” she said. “I was wanting to pay for my occasion and stuff like that. I don’t know it was stupid to get help.” 

According to Reachout.com, one of the key symptoms of depression is lethargy, doing anything can be very difficult. Your child is likely to be in a dark space and feeling cut off from family and friends. Listening and taking action can be really difficult for them.

But many teens who seek help view it as a bad thing due to the labels and stigmas attached to someone who suffers from depression. This makes them not want to be labeled as someone with an illness as well as they don’t want to include anybody with their problem. 

There are many reasons why people attempt to or commit suicide, but most of them begin with depression and anxiety.

“Students also report experiences of sadness or ‘going through the motions’ due to longstanding concerns such as family conflict, grief and loss, traumatic experiences, or cultural factors such as certain identities clashing with one’s family/community or experiencing discrimination,” said Strokoff.

Depression and anxiety are very common in teens because that is the time where teens realize who they are, trying to find where they belong, and balancing school and a social life. Sometimes it does not go as planned and teens go into a state of depression. These teens do not know how to cope in a safe and healthy way since there is no one who is teaching them and they lack a place for counseling. 

Hearing stories about these teens committing and attempting suicide is hard to hear, but revealing how they did it is more tough. According to a 2015 study by the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, hanging/strangulation was the most common method of suicide, a calculation of two-thirds (64.5%) of suicides between ages 10 and 17.

When a teen struggles to find help one of the choices they lean to is fixing the issue themselves and for this there should be someone to help someone who is feeling suicidal. 

For UIC student Nicole, 20, finding these resources to counter her anxiety while attending school was not a simple task. 

“I didn’t have the resources to attend therapy because it is pretty expensive and I was a high school student at the time,” she said. “I didn’t live in a neighborhood that provided me with free counseling services. I didn’t go to a high school that offered me adequate counseling services either. Counselors in my high school didn’t promote counseling services either and they didn’t engage people to join peer support groups. The counselors didn’t explicitly say to visit their office if someone were feeling down. In high school, the counselor was the person to visit if someone needed help with their class schedule or college applications.” 

The National Suicide Line number on a train platform
Photo By Esther Ma

How to Help

If you know someone who is struggling with something there is always a way to help. Some people don’t know where to start on learning what the signs to prevent suicide, so as shown below, here is a list of the most commons signs to prevent suicide. 

At the Lurie Children’s Center for Childhood Resilience (CCR), “It is vital that we increase public awareness of the signs and symptoms of depression, and the warning signs of suicide for youth, families and adults,” said Colleen Cicchetti Ph.D. Being aware of these warning signs can help detect someone that might be at risk of attempting suicide and you can save a life. 

An infographic that shows the Signs to Prevent Suicide

How the Bahamas Became So Popular

By Esther Ma

There are a lot of places in the world to take a nice, tropical vacation, but the Bahamas is one of the most tropical places to visit when people are on vacation. The Bahamas was not always a place for tourists to relax on the beach, but an island that went through many struggles.

 The capital of the Bahamas is Nassau and in the early 300 and 400 AD, people called the Lucayan, came to the island. They were peaceful people who lived there until Christopher Columbus “ discovered” the island and made them slaves because they were an easy target for him. Since then the Bahamas suffered from pirates and having it destroyed twice. Around the 1860’s, the Bahamas benefited by the U.S Civil War, which was a location to trade cotton. In 1898, The Hotel and Steam Ship Service Act provided the government support needed for the construction of hotels. After that, Americans started to go to the Bahamas because at the time, the Probation Act was still ongoing in the U.S. 

From that moment on, the Bahamas, especially the capital of the Bahamas has been one of the most tourists spot from the thirty inhabited islands. The capital of the Bahamas is Nassau and it’s 179 miles from the coast of Florida and people get to these islands by plane or ferry. The island has multiple things to do like cliff jumping, relaxing on the beach, tours of the island…. etc. Check out this time lapse of Nassau on how the island became more of a tourist spot.

Screenshot of the Nassau, Bahamas in 2018

Craft Breweries In Illinois

By:Esther Ma

Craft Beer is a huge industry in the United States. A craft brewer is small and independent brewer. According to the Brewer’s Association, 400,473 barrels of beer were produced per year and it ranked seventeenth out of fifty states. In 2018, there are 229 craft breweries in Illinois.

Production of craft beer has been slowly increasing in recent years and the creation of new craft breweries has been increasing also. The Illinois craft beer industry is in the 13th ranking compared to the other states in the United States. There are tons of local breweries in Illinois and they are sold in either bars or your local grocery stores. Check out this infographic about craft beer in Illinois for more information.

Inforgraphic about Illinois Craft Beer

Chicago Police Stations in the City

By: Esther Ma

Over the last couple of years, Chicago has been in the news for many things. In can include news like shootings or gang-related crimes. Many communities in Chicago feel unsafe in their neighborhood because of all the crime outside of their home. The only thing the city can do is to send people out in the communities and protect. That would be the Chicago Police Department because they’re trained to take on anything they might be faced with.

According to the Chicago Data Portal, there are twenty- three police stations spread out across Chicago. In 2010, there was an estimate of 13,318 active police officers and it’s been increasing every single year. As shown on the map below, police stations are spread out across the city, but it seems like some neighborhoods don’t have a police station near them at all. Check out this interactive map that shows all the police stations listed in Chicago.   

Teen Activist speaks out against Climate Change

By: Esther Ma

Climate change has been a problem since the Industrial Revolution because scientist has seen a change in temperature due to global warming which includes the burning of fossil fuels. According to an analysis of Google search on Google Trends, Climate Change has maintained the top search in the region and searched largely within the east coast.

One of the main causes of climate change is global warming and the effects of climate change can be a variety of melting of glaciers, increase in storms, wildfires, increase in temperatures… etc. The UNFCCC created the Paris Agreement that aims to stop the global temperature to rise two degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels. So far, 183 nations have signed the agreement.

Teen Activist Made Headlines Speaking at the U.N Summit

The U.N climate change summit was hosted in Washington D.C in September 2019 and a teen activist name, Greta Thunberg, spoke at the summit. She made headlines on the news when she asked the global leaders at the summit with the words, “ How dare you?”  According to an analysis of Google search on Google Trends, Greta Thunberg maintained the top search, reaching its highest peak of popularity against Climate Change. 

At age 15, Greta Thunberg began a solo climate change protest by not attending school.Ever since she has been joined by thousands of schools and universities students in more than one countries to fight against climate change. From the graph, it can be concluded that people are searching more about climate change because of Thunberg speaking at the summit.

Top 10 Chicago Bears Player Salaries in 2019

By: Esther Ma

The graph below displays the salaries for the Chicago Bears Top 10 players in 2019. In addition, the pie chart also has the lowest paid player.

View full graphic here

The graph above shows the distribution of salaries to the Top 10 Chicago Bears players.

Every NFL team has a limit on the amount of income they can have. A salary cap for the NFL is the amount of money that the teams can spend on players salaries. The cap is dictated by the Players Association in the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) and it’s based on the television contracts, merchandise sales and ticket sales are added up and it’s divided among the NFL league. In addition, all NFL teams have to spend a minimum amount of money towards their caps. All teams are supposed to spend eighty nine percent of their caps.

In 2019, the Chicago bears maximum salary cap is $194,893,213 million. In addition, the active contracts spent on all the players is $161,891,508 million.  The caps are based on the previous years profits of the team. Allen Robinson has the highest salary cap out of fifty three players. Is overall salary cap hit is $15 million versus the lowest player, Abdullah Anderson, who has a salary cap of $320,294 thousand.Allen Robinson makes $14,679,706 million more than the lowest paid player, Abdullah Anderson. These high salaries make it difficult to keep the best players and it will result in trading. 

Chicago Pride Parade reaches 1 million attendees in 2014

By: Esther Ma

In 2014, a total of one million people has attended the Chicago Pride Parade. 

The graphic shows the attendance of Pride Parade in Chicago.

Chicago PrideFest is a two- day celebration taking place during the weekend, usually on the last day of June. Chicago Pridefest usually has Pride in the Park one day and Chicago Pride Parade. Chicago Pride parade wasn’t always a parade, but more of a political statement. 

On June 28,1969, at the Stonewall Inn in New York City, drag queens and others fought back the police harassment and fought back. Back in the day, people weren’t that accepting of drag queens or being supportive of the LGBQT community. The next day, thousands of people came outside the Stonewall Inn and indicate that the LGBTQ people would keep on fighting for their rights and have no discrimiantion.   

The Stonewall Inn riots in New York impacted LGBTQ activists from Chicago and Los Angeles went on to mark the anniversary of the riots. According to ChicagoPride, they said “ Pride is still a political, cultural and social statement that LGBT people are equal in every way and expect to be treated that way.”In 2019, LGBTQ members are still fighting for equality.

 As shown above, in 2014, one million people attended the Chicago Pride Parade and it was also the year Illinois legalized same-sex marriage. It had a huge impact on everyone in the LGBTQ community because they get to officially be with their significant other on paper. The graphic above shows that more people are supporting the LGBTQ community and every year, more people are attending the Chicago Pride parade. If the number of people attending the parade is increasing every year, then there should be more than one million people attending in the year 2020.