Letter: No romance in teenage suicides

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The Independent Online
From Mrs Terry Head

Sir: I was rather concerned with the flippant attitude taken in Vicky Ward's column ("What a week it was for Martin Hinchcliffe", 23 June) to an attempted teenage suicide. Last year, (at the time when his GCSE mocks were imminent), my 14-year-old son also had a row with his girlfriend. Unfortunately, his suicide attempt was successful.

I do not know the complex reasons why Martin or my son felt it necessary to take such despairing action over what to others seems a trivial affair. But I do know that we all should be very concerned about the immense pressures that are being felt by today's young people - pressures to achieve perhaps unattainable levels of success in both their private and public lives, brought to bear by society through their peers, parents, schools and the media.

Writing an article that implies that suicide can be seen as a credible, even if romantically heroic solution to what may be felt to be an impossible situation, is injudicious. It would be better to highlight the fact that, in the UK, 70 people a month aged 15 to 24 succeed in taking this desperate action as a solution to their problems, and to ask what is happening in our society to provoke this.

Yours faithfully,

Terry Head

Eastleigh, Hampshire