Teen suicide is not an easy topic to discuss, but it’s necessary.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death among teenagers 15 to 19 years-old, behind accidental vehicular deaths, according to the Center for Disease Control.
Depression and mental health issues are often linked to suicidal thoughts in teens, and can have devastating consequences if action is not taken when warning signs are present.
Other factors such as substance abuse, low self-esteem, bullying, or experiencing a traumatic event all play significant roles in a teen’s mental health and state of mind, according to No Bullying.com
So significant that roughly 90 percent of teens who commit suicide struggled with any or all of the factors mentioned, according to the American Psychological Association.
Educational programs, crisis hotlines, and screening programs help seek to identify at risk adolescents, but it is everyone’s responsibility to help teens who are struggling.
Regardless of where you work, if you know of a teen or young adult who is struggling or showing signs of depression, abusing substances, or a victim of bullying be proactive and offer help.
When we all watch out and care for the future generation, we collectively work together to help lower teen suicide.
Early intervention is key to preventing teen suicide. Do not be afraid to ask a teen directly if they have ever contemplated suicide.
Be mindful and watch for these signs:
- Talking about dying or inflicting self harm.
- The experience of a friend’s death or family member passing causes low self-esteem, low self-worth, and a loss of interest in activities they enjoy.
- If you observe a sad, angry, tired, irritable, and withdrawn teen, and their current personality is very different from their original personality.
- When a teen talks about not sleeping and having insomnia, waking up often throughout the night, sleeping for hours beyond normality and having bad nightmares.
- If you observe a teen having a loss of appetite, weight issues, or overeating and their eating habits have drastically changed, affecting their mood and health.
- When a teen is having fears of losing control, and displays behavioral issues such as acting erratically or harming themselves or others.
- When a teen talks about feeling shame, being overwhelmed, and makes statements that they hate themselves or believe everyone would be better off without them.
- If a teen talks about not feeling hopeful about the future.
- Texting, Facebooking, writing notes about a suicidal plan, or giving away their belongings may indicate they already have a plan of action.
Being aware of the possible warning signs will empower you to contact a parent, counselor or school nurse immediately.
The important thing to remember is to act on the knowledge right away and do not delay.
Being wrong about a situation is better than having been right, but no action was taken for fear of embarrassment or meddling.
If you or someone you know is struggling please call the National Suicide Prevention Line at 1-800-273-TALK. You can also contact the Teen Screen Program and Stop a Suicide Today for more information and resources.