What Does Teen Sex Have to Do with Suicide?

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When you think about the possibility of your teen daughter having sex, what is it that causes you the most concern?

Is it that she could pregnant? 

If so, you’re certainly not alone.

Or that she could contract an incurable disease?

If so, who could blame you? 

No parent wants to see their teen daughter risk a cervical cancer scare as an adult. Or face a lifetime of medications just to prolong her life.

The physical consequences are at the forefront of every concerned parent’s mind when it comes to their teen daughters (and sons) having sex. And understandably so.

But it’s the emotional consequences I encourage you to pay close attention to.

And with September being National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, I couldn’t let this month pass by without sounding the alarm.

Why Sex & Relationships Are Emotionally Draining for Teens

The issue here is two-fold:

  1. Your daughter having sex at a young age when she’s not emotionally equipped to handle the potential consequences that come with such a grownup decision. 
  2. Your daughter being consumed by a relationship at a young age when she’s not emotionally mature enough to handle it.

Over the years I’ve heard girls say they “love hard” or when they fall in love that they “fall hard.” And they say it like it’s a badge of honor. What does that mean anyway?

“I have a big heart and I love fast and hard and guys take advantage of that.”

I’m always concerned when I meet girls whose entire world revolves around their relationships. 

Is that healthy, at their age, considering the fact there’s only a slim chance a teen relationship will last past the teen years?  

“In a few of my past relationships I have had sex, 
and when they ended, I felt devastated and empty.”

Obviously not. 

So, where does that leave girls like the young lady above who have sex with their boyfriends and later feel “devasted and empty” when the relationship eventually ends?

In April of my sophomore year, I started dating a guy. He was sweet and said everything I wanted/needed to hear. The façade of sweetness only lasted a short time before he started pressuring me. Eventually he convinced me to give him oral sex. This went on for a few more months before he started pressuring me for more. When I said no, he broke up with me…I became suicidal and spent most of my summer before senior year in the hospital. I’m now dating a wonderful young man who loves me—not what I am. However, my past actions leave me broken and unable to love him as much as he deserves. I know he understands why even a hug can be hard for me to give, but I fear the day he doesn’t want a broken [girl] anymore.  Had I heard you speak before I made those horrible choices, my life would be completely different now.

You never want your daughter to feel like she’s “broken.” 

Because “broken” girls sometimes result to drastic measures to fix their problems once and for all.

The reality is this:  Emotional consequences tend to last long after the relationship has ended.

And while I’m not suggesting that sex and relationships are the main cause for teen suicide among girls, when I  continue to receive letters like the one below, I have no doubt they’re a contributing factor you can’t afford to overlook with your daughter.

“I started having sex last year, let’s just say it was the WORST mistake I could’ve made. It was with my ex-boyfriend. I felt like I had to do it. I ended up going through depression, almost suicide and getting an STD. Thank God it was curable…Now with my commitment of saving my PIECE, me and my current boyfriend have developed one of the best relationships. There’s no sex involved & I set boundaries for the both of us. He RESPECTS me. I’m happier than I ever have been because of it. I just want to say thank you for speaking to us. You made me re-think everything I know about sex. Please continue to spread your message.”

“You came to my school just a couple days ago and I can truly say it changed my life. I am so thankful for what you do, I’ve heard a lot of speakers but none of them got to me the way you did. I hope with all my heart that you continue doing what you do. When you came to my school I was talking to a guy. We’re into each other but I’m done with dating. We’ve had sex before; but after your first day here I went home and told him I don’t want to have sex anymore. You taught me that putting my physical and mental health on the line for only a moment of pleasure isn’t worth it. I’ve attempted suicide once already and right now I can truly say I am happy. God has saved me and so have you. Thank you, Ms. Jackie, I owe you so much. Please don’t ever stop speaking to the youth about this neglected topic. I won’t ever forget you! God really has you in His hands.”

What You Can Do

I don’t claim to be an expert in suicide prevention, but when it comes to love, sex and relationships, I do know there are some key things you can do to help protect and empower your daughter:

  1. Keep an eye on your daughter’s relationships. Make sure her relationships don’t become her everything. That she doesn’t define herself by her relationship status. That she has balance—spending quality time with the rest of your family and friends, so she’s not isolated by her boyfriend.
  2. Spend quality time getting to know her dates as well. You don’t want your daughter dating someone who’s a stranger to you.
  3. Teach your daughter that she has control over her emotions and not the other way around. That way when a break-up happens, she’s better able to cope and not feel like it’s the end of the world.

Teens today deal with so many stressors it’s no wonder suicide rates are so high for youth ages 15 to 24. And according to Child Trends, girls were almost twice as likely as guys to seriously consider suicide.

Now more than ever it’s important to periodically gauge your daughter’s emotional well-being, especially when it comes to sex and relationships. 

The goal?  Make sure she knows she should never be defined by either. 

P.S. As adults, we often fret over the potential physical consequences of teen sex and overlook the emotional toil they can have on a teen’s life. The reality is girls are more likely to suffer from those consequences long after their relationship has ended.  And, unfortunately, your daughter isn’t immune. So I strongly encourage you to take heed of the tips I shared above and help empower your daughter to know her worth in and outside of a relationship so she’s NEVER left to feel like she’s “broken” in need of a permanent “fix.”

P.P.S. While September may be coming to a close, suicide prevention awareness is ALWAYS timely for parents of teen girls, so please share this post with everyone you know. Thank you!

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