A recent longitudinal study conducted by researchers at Boston College found that teens who participate in the arts (music, theatre, fine arts) are more likely to report feeling depressed than students who are not involved in these programs. In contrast, students who are involved exclusively in sports are the least likely to report depressive symptoms. Interestingly, those students who participated in arts and sports are still more likely to feel sad than those who participate in sports alone.
Why is this?
I recently spoke to a group of high school students about suicide. As I was speaking, I came to the realization that a lot of people are uncomfortable talking about it. In fact, the teacher asked me to come in to address the class because she herself was unsure about how to broach the subject. Suicide rates (including both attempted and completed) among Canadian young adults and adolescents are alarmingly high. Check out the Statistics Canada information here if you are interested in the figures.
One of the problems is the stigma so often attached to the topic. No one wants to talk about it. If someone does commit suicide family members and friends speak about it in hushed tones. Everyone judges the "suicidal girl" at school (or the colleague with "mental problems" in the work place). But, considering suicide is something that can happen to any person, no matter their socio-economic status or past history it is worthwhile for every person to know what to do or say to a friend or loved one who is at risk. After all, would you rather have a somewhat awkward conversation or a dead friend?
A great number of people who commit suicide do so without talking to a professional first. Friends and family are usually the first to notice that something is amiss. Keep your eyes open for warning signs like depression, hopelessness, increased isolation, and self-blame. And don't be afraid to ask if they are thinking about killing themselves. You could save a life.
Licensed Psychologist in Fredericton, N.B.