fbpx

Community unites to combat rising teenage suicide rates in Argentina

On the bridge that day with my friend, I conveyed a sense of security. I wanted to instill in him the possibility of hope. “There is always a solution for what hurts us,” I assured him. Throughout our conversation, we spoke of pain, fear, and the human connection that binds us in our darkest moments. 

  • 1 month ago
  • June 13, 2024
6 min read
Antonella Ferril volunteers at the Ministry of Health's Mental Health program, focused on combating adolescent suicide in Salta, Argentina. | Photo courtesy of Antonella Ferri Antonella Ferril volunteers at the Ministry of Health's Mental Health program, focused on combating adolescent suicide in Salta, Argentina. | Photo courtesy of Antonella Ferri
Antonella Ferril, is 16 years old and is a volunteer in the Mental Health program of the Ministry of Health
JOURNALIST’S NOTES
INTERVIEW SUBJECT
Antonella Ferril, 16, volunteers in the Mental Health program of the Ministry of Health. This program, created in collaboration with UNICEF, aims to address the high number of adolescent suicides in Salta through the “Adolescent Listening Center” initiative.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
The latest joint report by the province and UNICEF reveals that in 2022, 48 cases of suicide were reported among children and adolescents aged 10 to 19 in Salta, making it the province with the highest adolescent suicide rate in Argentina. The report highlights a significant disparity between suicide rates in Salta compared to the national average. To address this urgent issue, an interdisciplinary system, including the “Adolescent Listening Center,” was established by the province’s Ministry of Health and UNICEF to provide immediate support and intervention for affected individuals.

SALTA, Argentina — One day, my phone rang. On the line, I heard a desperate plea from a close friend. “I’m about to do it,” he said, “I don’t want to live anymore.” He stood on the bridge at the entrance of our town, now known as the “Bridge of the Solution.” My heart raced as I ran to him, fearing each second’s delay could be fatal. When I arrived, I saw him sitting there, sad and alone.

The weight of his loneliness and helplessness felt palpable, a burden so powerful it seemed unbearable. As I approached him, my fears momentarily clouded my thoughts, yet the urgent need to reach him propelled me forward. I sat beside him and engaged in a quiet conversation.

Read more mental health stories at Orato World Media.

From despair to hope: preventing a friend’s suicide on the town’s bridge 

[In the province of Salta, Argentina, the suicide rate skyrocketed with 48 cases in 2022.] I felt overwhelmed with sadness every day, hearing about these extreme cases of suicide. A sense of desperate urgency set in as I interpreted the silence of suicide as a scream for help.

Many teens trapped in despair lacked the confidence to confide in an adult. They felt unsure who to turn to or how to escape their situation. In moments of desperation, I too echoed those feelings. Soon, I felt a desire to help myself and the at-risk youth in my community. I joined an interdisciplinary network of the United Nations and the Ministry of Health in Argentina.

On the bridge that day with my friend, I conveyed a sense of security. I wanted to instill in him the possibility of hope. “There is always a solution for what hurts us,” I assured him. Throughout our conversation, we spoke of pain, fear, and the human connection that binds us in our darkest moments. 

As we sat there talking, I felt a primitive, human solidarity take hold. We recognized our shared struggles and the power of support. I hugged him, promising that together we could find a way forward. “You are not alone,” I said. “Let me be by your side to find another path.” Through a tear-filled embrace, a moment of shared vulnerability and understanding anchored us.

Later, I walked him home, ensuring he knew he had someone to lean on. Since then, we have stayed connected to remind him of my support. Reflecting on that day, I marvel at how empathy can fuel our strength. It can drive us to help those in distress. As human beings, we have a profound impact on one another’s lives. We have the capacity to pull people back from the brink.

Salta, a tourist city, grapples with high teenage suicide rates

In Salta, a city renowned for its tourism, the high rates of teenage suicide starkly contrast its scenic appeal. I became aware of this alarming situation during a Women’s Day activity at my school. They set up a mailbox where students could drop anonymous letters. Many students revealed harrowing experiences of sexual abuse and violence. This activity helped me understand that adolescents face struggles. They often feel cornered by psychological violence and other forms of abuse. This may lead them to make irreversible decisions to escape their pain.

Through intentional programming, these teens in Salta, Argentina are sticking together to ensure stark teen suicide rates drop and teens have access to a support network. | Photo courtesy of Antonella Ferril

Adolescents find it difficult to seek help due to a profound sense of isolation and despair. The lack of opportunities in village life suffocates them. They struggle to find value and purpose, fearing a life reduced to mere existence. This monotony breeds a sense of futility, turning life into a series of unmet desires and frustrations. It is a form of living death, or perhaps, a loss of the very capacity to desire. 

This social context offers little support, especially in conservative families. They may view psychology not as a means of improving life but as a label for the “insane.” This stigma leaves many youths without a safe space to voice their troubles, pushing them toward dire choices. 

A beacon of hope: serving vulnerable teens at the counseling center 

In light of the tragic occurrences in Salta, I joined an organization supported by the UN and the Ministry of Health. The municipality established this network in response to high case rates, making it a beacon of hope. As I took this step, I began to find my sense of purpose. Within this organization, I realized that I, too, might have needed support without fully acknowledging it. 

Children at the counseling center react differently: some open up quickly, while others may break down in tears due to shyness or fear. | Photo courtesy of Antonella Ferril

At our counseling center called the Adolescent Listening Center, we often receive calls from concerned friends or family members. We also hear directly from the affected individuals. Adolescents feel more comfortable discussing personal matters with peers rather than professionals. In this role, we act as conduits between the interdisciplinary team and those seeking our aid. We guide them away from precarious fates. 

The children react in various ways. Some open up as soon as they feel safe, while others, inhibited by shyness or fear, may break down in tears. In those moments, I offer a simple gesture. I give a hug, a listening ear, and a compassionate gaze. I recognize these gestures can save a life.

Often, those in distress may not fully grasp the consequences of their actions or know how to articulate their pain. They commonly face the debilitating challenge of wanting to escape the intense suffering from life’s violent or degrading experiences. This underscores the resilience of the human spirit and the profound need for empathy and understanding. 

Translation Disclaimer

Translations provided by Orato World Media are intended to result in the end translated document being understandable in the end language. Although every effort is made to ensure our translations are accurate we cannot guarantee the translation will be without errors.

#GlobalCooperationNow

Pledge to be a #ConsciousCitizen today and demand #GlobalCooperationNow! by signing this petition. Sign Our Petition.

HERE'S WHAT'S NEW:

INTERNATIONAL FEATURE STORY: PAYOUT: $200 OR MORE

NATIONAL FEATURE STORY: PAYOUT: $100-150 OR MORE
REGIONAL FEATURE STORY: PAYOUT: $50-100 OR MORE
SPORTS AND ENTERTAINMENT STORY: PAYOUT: $25-50
Photo Gallery (10 Photos) PAYOUT: $25
Photo Gallery (20 Photos) PAYOUT: $50

TERMS & CONDITIONS APPLY
JOIN US

Related