Nothing is more devastating for a family or community than to lose a young person to teen suicide. Oftentimes, parents, classmates, siblings, and neighbors are left wondering whether they could have done anything to prevent the spiraling of suicide thoughts and ultimately the death itself.
Preventing tragedies such as these require a proper understanding of suicide ideation and the risk factors pushing the teen to a point of attempted suicide. That said, the reasons for attempted suicide in teens can be quite complex. In general, the rate of suicide attempts in children is much lower, but as they progress to become adolescents, the rate goes up sharply.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide ranks third among the leading causes of death in the United States for people aged between 15 and 24 years. (Check out this article: Report shows Utah youth suicides jumps 141%)
The risk of suicide has been shown to dramatically increase in instances where teens have access to firearms. Statistics reveal that 60% of all the suicides in the United States are gun related. Therefore, parents and guardians with guns in their homes should ensure they are unloaded and safely locked out of reach of teens.
Apart from access to firearms, overdose resulting from over-the-counter prescriptions and self-medication are among the leading methods through which teens attempt and complete suicides. In terms of gender, there is a stark difference between girls and boys. While the rate of girls attempting suicide is twice that of boys, it has been found that completed suicide cases are 4 times higher in boys than in girls. This has been attributed to the use of more lethal methods including hanging, firearms, or jumping from extreme heights. Hormones, depression, and social peer pressure are large factors.
The Teens at Risk for Suicide
The area between childhood and adulthood can be quite a gray area for teens, and a confusing one at that. Even though it has been cited as a period of tremendous possibilities, if not well managed, this bridge from childhood to adulthood can be a source of stress and worry. Many teens struggle to fit in socially, act responsibly, and perform well academically. This pressure can be overwhelming if left unchecked.
Nowadays, a majority of teenagers tend to explore their sexual identity through relationships and because of the fact that they are still growing in maturity, such explorations can result into conflicts. With rules and expectations at every corner they turn to, teens may feel that their independence and self-identity is under attack.
As pointed out at the beginning, suicide attempts are driven by a cocktail of interrelated factors. Some of the commonly cited push factors of suicide ideation include:
Psychological Disorders – This may include depression, alcohol and drug abuse, and bipolar disorders. It is said that close to 95% of people suffer from a psychological disorder at the point of committing suicide.
Feelings of irritation, agitation, and distress.
Feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness which are oftentimes followed by depression.
Inadequate support network, feelings of social isolation, and poor relationships with peers or parents.
Previous suicide attempts.
A family history of suicide or depression.
Physical, emotional, or sexual abuse.
Warning Signs of Suicide
There are many suicide warning signs. Because of this, parents need to be extremely attentive to catch some of them. It is important to point out that not indicators will be manifested at once, but should you see your teen expressing any of these behaviors, you need to pay attention.
Sudden Calmness and Withdrawl
After a period of moodiness or excessive sadness, a teen who becomes calm could be giving a sign that he has come to a point of taking his life. In most instances, they will withdraw from the rest of the family or peers and choose to be alone. You may notice a gradual loss of interest in activities they previously enjoyed. The withdrawal could also portend depression which is one of the leading causes of suicide.
Changes in Personality and Behavior
http://www.lifelineutah.comA person contemplating suicide may exhibit a change either sudden or gradual, of behavior and attitude. They may speak or move with unusual slowness or speed and to some extent, they may be less concerned about their personal appearance. Because this trait is associated with addictions as well as “typical” teen behavior, we recommend consulting with one of the professionals at Lifeline For Youth.
When the change in personality is accompanied by self-harmful behavior such as reckless driving, increase intake of drugs, or engaging in other risky behaviors, may serve as an indicator that the teen in question doesn’t value life as much.
Teens Who Threaten Suicide
This is a rather direct warning sign. It has been established that about 50 to 75% of people who contemplate suicide may confide or give a hint to a friend or relative. That said, it must be pointed out that not everyone considering suicide will give a red flag and not all those who threaten suicide actually follow through to complete it. That notwithstanding, any threats of suicide should be carefully and seriously followed up.
Any teenager showing a deep sense of hopelessness either concerning the future or their present circumstances must be carefully observed. With little expectations of improvement, a majority of teenagers consider suicide as a solution to end it all.
Whenever you spot suicide warning signs you should act with haste to arrest any thought processes that could be fueling the impending suicide attempt. The first step is talking to them about suicide. You don’t have to be direct in this, but you can simply show them that you care. Often suicide attempts are a call for help. This will open an opportunity for them to express their feelings and it could give them the relief they long for.
Be attentive, empathetic, patient, and non-judgmental as you engage them. Try as much as possible not to blame them or argue with them as this may escalate the problem.
You can also offer help and support by talking with the professional counselors at Lifeline For Youth. Do all you can to encourage them to make positive life changes and continue your support even after the visible signs of suicide are long gone. For more information about our services don’t hesitate to call us today. The life you may save is worth it.