There is a clear relationship between suicide and depression. Teen depression is a mental illness experienced by adolescents with symptoms of feeling down, despondent, or low. There might be the loss of an ability to enjoy things. A parent might see their teen lose interest in sports, no longer attending favorite classes, avoiding friends, and not socializing in general. Many times, parents see a change in their child’s behavior as typical for adolescence. However, what parents might be seeing are signs of depression.
And if depression is left untreated, it can lead some teens to take their own lives. Suicide is the third leading cause of death for 15- to 24-year-olds and the sixth leading cause of death for 5- to 14-year-olds.
Sadly, attempted suicides are even more common. The National Institute of Mental Health indicates that there are as many as 25 attempts of suicide to every one that is actually committed. Male teens are four more times likely to die from suicide, whereas female adolescents are more likely to make suicide attempts. Although there are many reasons that might cause a suicide attempt, the most common is depression. Other causes include divorce of parents, domestic violence, lack of success or progress in school, feelings of unworthiness, death of a loved one, and others.
Although suicide is difficult to predict, there are some signs that indicate that an adolescent might be contemplating it. Four out of five teens that attempt suicide give clear warnings. If you are a parent caregiver and you suspect that your child or adolescent is suicidal, look for these warning signs:
- Talking About Dying
- Experiencing a Recent Loss
- A Change in Personality
- Change in Eating Habits
- Fear of Losing Control
- Low Self Esteem
- No Hope for the Future
- Threats of suicide—either direct or indirect.
- Verbal hints such as “I won’t be around much longer” or “It’s hopeless.
- Obsession with death.
- Overwhelming sense of guilt, shame or rejection.
- Putting affairs in order (for example, giving or throwing away favorite possessions).
- Sudden cheerfulness after a period of depression.
- Dramatic change in personality or appearance.
- Hallucinations or bizarre thoughts.
- Changes in eating or sleeping patterns.
- Changes in school performance.
Furthermore, the following are additional factors that might lead a teen to attempt or succeed at taking his or her life:
- If an adolescent has attempted suicide in the past, there might be more likelihood that he or she would attempt suicide again.
- If an adolescent is struggling with an addiction or has a tendency to use drugs or alcohol, he or she might be more at risk for suicide.
- Teens who lose their ability to reason or think logically can also be at greater risk for suicide attempts.
- If a teen is missing circles of support, he or she might be more at risk for committing suicide. Having supportive friends, family members, teachers, counselors, and mentors provide teens with means for communication and talking to someone about the emotions or circumstances that might be challenging.
- If an adolescent has thought about a plan by which to commit suicide, then the likelihood of following through with that plan is greater. If a teen is talking about suicide but does not have a plan, means, or strong enough intent, then the suicidal thoughts may not necessarily lead to action. Nonetheless, any teen who is expressing thoughts of suicide should be treated appropriately.
- Some adolescents might express suicidal tendencies if her or she has recently broken up with a boyfriend or girlfriend. The loss of a relationship can be a trigger for depression, suicidal thoughts, and at times, attempts at suicide.
- If an adolescent is experiencing a chronic illness or suffering from a life-long physical impairment, he or she might also be at greater risk for suicide.
Teen suicide is proving to be a national crisis. In order to prevent it, parents and the rest of the community need to be educated on depression, teen depression treatment, and suicide prevention.