Indian origin teen jumps off San Francisco bridge

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Golden Gate Bridge. Photo: goldengate.org

Early Thursday, Dec. 15, 2022, reports trickled in of a 16-year-old Indian American teenager who reportedly died by suicide after allegedly jumping off the iconic Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.

According to a media report, the boy’s parents and US Coast Guard authorities stated that the teen’s bicycle, bag and phone were found at the bridge. According to guards, the incident took place was around 4:58 pm when they began a rescue operation after they saw “a human” jumping from the bridge. The operation reportedly stretched over two hours.

San Francisco community leader Ajay Jain Bhutoria was cited as saying that this is the fourth apparent suicide attempt of an Indian American at the Golden Gate Bridge.

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Although not much about the case or the incident is available, a New York Times report from earlier this year details how American teenagers feel anxious, depressed and even suicidal.

Stating that American adolescence is undergoing a drastic change, the NYT article points out that while three decades ago, the gravest public health threats to teenagers in the United States came from binge drinking, drunken driving, teenage pregnancy and smoking, the new public health concern is that of soaring rates of mental health disorders.

In 2019, 13 per cent of adolescents reported having a major depressive episode, a 60 per cent increase from 2007. Emergency room visits by children and adolescents in that period also rose sharply for anxiety, mood disorders and self-harm. And for people ages 10 to 24, suicide rates, stable from 2000 to 2007, leaped nearly 60 per cent by 2018, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Depression in children and adolescents are harder to detect than in adults and are often seen as anxiety, disruptive behavior and personality disorders in younger people, according to mental health professionals.
The symptoms of depression in adolescents, say experts, can differ from the adult population with adolescents tending to have more frequently somatic symptoms, anxiety, disruptive behavior and personality disorders. “Children don’t present with anhedonia and sadness. They look completely normal. But they have strong suicidal ideation.” says Dr Arati Rao an oncologist in San Francisco.

Anhedonia or the reduced ability to experience pleasure is a core symptom of depression and symptoms that are associated with it include a feeling of emptiness or “feeling flat,” a sense of detachment from the world and a lost sense of belonging and connection among others.

A total of 25 people ended their lives here last year and almost 2,000 suicide cases have been reported since the bridge opened in 1937, said Bridge Rail Foundation, a non-profit organization that works to end suicides on the Golden Gate Bridge.

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