Teens under Pressure: Hill Harper

Stressed-Out Students

Dr. Phil introduces Hill Harper, co-star of CSI:NY. Hill is also the best-selling author of Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny and Letters to a Young Sister: DeFINE Your Destiny. Dr. Phil sent Hill to visit a group of teens in a community where five teen deaths by suicide reportedly happened in less than a year.

Watch Hill's candid talk with the students.

When the videotape ends, Dr. Phil turns to Hill. "We're talking about suicide today, because it's such a serious issue, but you didn't bring that up in this meeting. It was brought up by the kids in this meeting who said, ‘Nobody wants to talk about this,'" he observes.

"There are all the different experts who talk about, ‘Well, if you talk about it, that will increase the likelihood that folks will copycat and do it.' The teens are saying, ‘Hey, we need to talk about this stuff,'" Hill shares.[AD]

Michaela participated in the discussion with Hill, and she is joined in the studio by her mother, Sabrina.

"Sabrina, anything that was talked about in [Hill's group discussion] that is a surprise to you?" Dr. Phil asks.

"Not really," she replies. "I see the pressure that [Michaela's] under. She gets very irritable. There's a lot with these kids. They strive to take so many AP classes, and do a couple of sports, and play a couple of instruments and run a Third World country, basically. I think that unless they feel like they're doing that, they don't think they're successful."

Dr. Phil addresses the teen. "Is there a point, Michaela, that you feel overwhelmed by this?" he asks.

"Yes. I think that there's always going to be some pressure. That's expected, and we should rise above it," Michaela replies. "But when you get to that point where people are turning to bad things in order to cope with it " you have kids crying every night because they can't finish their homework. They're up until 1:00 in the morning " it's ridiculous. That's the pressure that needs to stop."

Dr. Phil turns back to Hill. "In your group, there was a comment that the idea is to sweep this under the rug and not talk about it," he observes.

[AD]"There's a difference: Parents want to talk about it, but parents seem to want to talk about it in the way that the parent wants to talk about it," Hill explains. "There's a difference between listening and hearing."

Dr. Phil shares the Dos and Don'ts When Dealing with Suicide.

- DON"T keep someone's suicidal feelings a secret to protect your relationship.
- DON'T lecture on the value of life.
- DON'T dare him or her to do it. 

Click here for the complete list.

Dr. Phil introduces Dr. Lisa Firestone, a clinical psychologist and director of research and education for The Glendon Association, which provides programs about suicide and violence prevention.

"What parents need to do is to really look at what their kids are feeling underneath," Dr. Firestone says. "I think what they need to look at is what are the thoughts the child is having about themselves, their negative thoughts, and how pressure is playing into those negative thoughts. That's what our research is really focused on: the negative thought process that drives suicidal behavior."

 

[AD]Dr. Frank Lawlis, chairman of the Dr. Phil Advisory Board and co-founder of the Lawlis Peavy PNP Center, offers alternative coping strategies.

 


"What I want to do is to educate these teens, as well as the parents, in terms of how to de-stress yourself. You can do that through music, you can do that through exercise, you can do that through several kinds of things, even food, that will actually de-stress you," Dr. Lawlis explains.

 
If a friend or loved one is talking about or planning to take his or her life, reach out for help now. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1 (800) 273-TALK (8255).