Battling Mental Health Issues Among Young People: A Story of Survival and Hope

In today’s society, suicide ranks as the second leading cause of death among young people. Loneliness and depression often drive adolescents and young adults to resort to self-harm. Martin Lhoták, who attempted suicide at seventeen, was on a similar path. Fortunately, his parents intervened just in time, saving his life.

Martin bravely shared his story, revealing the hardships he faced during that period. “It was a tough time for me. I deeply disliked myself, lacked self-love, and experienced an overwhelming sense of loneliness. I had no desire to live and turned to substance abuse and battled severe depression,” he confessed to Právo.

However, Martin soon discovered that excessive marijuana use only worsened his condition. Feeling exhausted from such agony, he reached a breaking point. He retrieved a rope, fashioned a noose, and went to the attic, intending to end his life. Before his attempt, he left a farewell letter for his parents. Fortunately, they discovered the letter just in time to save him.

Martin had never confided in anyone about his struggles. He was afraid. At that moment, as he contemplated his decision to end his life, he quickly realized it might be a mistake. Darkness enveloped him. “I remember being in shock. I couldn’t even look at my parents afterward. It saddened me that they had to witness me in such a state,” Martin recalled, reflecting on his darkest moments.

Martin’s journey led him to the psychiatric ward of the Motol University Hospital. He spent two months there, receiving medication until the age of nineteen. Throughout his recovery, he encountered extraordinary individuals who helped reshape his life. He transformed into a person free from stress and anxiety. To an outsider, it would be impossible to discern that he had ever faced such challenges, Martin described.

His family and friends played an instrumental role in his healing process. “I blamed myself for what I had done, but thanks to my family and friends who stood by my side and to whom I am incredibly grateful, I suddenly felt loved and found meaning in life. I began working on myself and haven’t seen a psychiatrist since,” Martin concluded, having successfully steered clear of substance abuse.

“Take the Warning Signs Seriously”

According to the latest report from the National Monitoring Center for Drugs and Addictions, 25.3% of individuals between the ages of fifteen and twenty-four have used cannabis substances in 2021. However, the connection between substance use and suicide among young people remains unknown.

Nevertheless, research has consistently shown that adolescents and young adults are more vulnerable to suicidal tendencies. Psychologist Tomáš Holcner explains, “Young people are still forming their identities while simultaneously facing the demands of life. They are more prone to succumbing to intense emotions triggered by frustration or disappointment.”

Holcner emphasizes the importance of recognizing signs that someone may be contemplating suicide. These signs may include heightened anxiety or depressive states. “Individuals may become more withdrawn or display less interest in everyday activities. Sometimes, they may even openly talk about it. However, there is a myth that people who discuss suicide never follow through, which is simply untrue,” Holcner stated.

When loved ones recognize signs that someone is contemplating suicide, Holcner strongly advises taking those signals seriously. “It is crucial to engage in open conversations about what they are going through, to refrain from judgment, and not to downplay any indications that they may be at risk. Guiding individuals toward professional care, readily available in crisis centers or helplines, is highly recommended,” he added.

Sonia Petrášková, the director of the Safety Line, reported a nine percent increase in calls regarding suicide last year. Experts at the National Institute of Mental Health have also noted a rise in suicide rates among young people aged fifteen to twenty-four. However, exact figures have yet to be released.