The Dark Side of Teens

The Dark Side of Teens
Working moms and stay-at-home moms go head to head in debating the best way to raise children.
Fourteen-year-old Christina and her mother Suzanne were forced to face very serious issues when tragedy struck Christina's Iowa school.

"I was at school at second period when people started crying," says Christina. "I said, 'What happened?' and they said, 'There was a car wreck.'"

One of the kids who died in the car wreck was a friend of Christina's since the second grade. "I just couldn't believe it because I would never see him again," she says. "The next week after the car wreck, we found out that one of our classmates had committed suicide. He was always happy, he was always funny. I just couldn't understand it, it was unbearable."

Supposedly, a group of kids joined a suicide pact to honor the young man who had killed himself, says Christina's mom Suzanne.

Christina has some strong opinions about teenage suicide. "I think that the whole pact was a stupid way to honor him," she says. "I don't think it's just my school that needs to be taught about suicide, because it can happen anywhere."

"You guys have been through a lot," Dr. Phil says to Christina and Suzanne. "How does this affect you?" Dr. Phil asks.

"With the suicide, I just try to do my best because I still don't know why people do it or why people think about it," says Christina.

"Are you thinking that the school should have done something to involve the parents, to raise the awareness with the kids?" Dr. Phil asks Suzanne.

"We need to talk about it," says Suzanne. "It's not something that's going to go away."

Dr. Phil asks Gary Radikan, pricipal of a high school in Ankeny, Iowa, "You guys have been very proactive about [teen suicide] correct?"

"We try to connect every student with one adult through our advisement program," he responds. "We also have a student assistance team ... we try to identify students in our school that have any kind of a problem."

Dr. Phil then asks the three counselors that accompany principal Radikan, "Do you guys fear that by talking about it so much, you're going to create it?"

"I think that if we get a student in our office, we talk to the kid, we ask them if they're thinking about it ... I think we're pretty open about it," answers Kay, one of the counselors.

Dr. Phil recalls his private practice, "If somebody made a suicide threat to me, I immediately arranged for them to go into the hospital," he says.

Dr. Phil then asks Christina's mom Suzanne how she feels about the counselors' work. "Does this sound like the kind of proactive thing that would make you feel better?"

"Yes, it does," she replies. "However, what do we do when we don't see the signs or when the kids don't come to you?"

"Those kids that tend to be most likely to harm themselves or others in some way are identifiable," says Dr. Phil. "They were really picked on by other kids, they were out of the flow of things, there were warning signs."

Dr. Phil then asks the high school counselors, "How are parents responding when you call them on the phone and say, 'We've identified your child as possibly being at risk here'?"

"The parents many times are shocked," says principal Ratigan, "but we have not found one that didn't respond and come in."