The assessment tool below is just that – a tool. It’s not provided here to make your own judgment about whether a teen needs hospitalization. Rather, it should be used to determine whether or not to call a mental health professional.
A therapist, counselor, or psychologist can assess the severity of any suicidal thoughts and any appropriate treatment methods. The SADPERSONS assessment below is meant to provide support and guidance in the event that you have a teen who is suffering from suicidal thoughts.
- Teen suicide is the third leading cause of death of adolescents. However, male teens are four more times likely to die from suicide, whereas female adolescents are more likely to make suicide attempts.
- The age of an individual can play a significant role in their vulnerability to suicidal thoughts. However, the two age groups that are most vulnerable to suicide are adolescents and the elderly.
- Although there are many reasons that might cause a suicide attempt, the most common is depression. Studies show that almost all adolescents who commit suicide suffer from teen 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.
- 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.
- Those who lose their ability to reason or think logically can also be at greater risk for suicide attempts. During adolescence, the grey matter of the brain, which contains most of the brain’s neurons and is the part of the brain that thinks, is still growing. Alongside this is the still developing frontal cortex, which completes its growth during ages 23-26. The frontal cortex performs reasoning, planning, judgment, and impulse control. This might explain a teen’s tendency to make poor decisions and an inability to discern whether a situation is safe. Teens tend to experiment with risky behavior and don’t fully recognize the consequences of their choices.
- 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.
N-No Significant Other
- 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.
The above factors play a role in a teen’s tendency to attempt suicide. Knowing these might support the ability to seek the appropriate care if he or she is indeed at risk. The National Institute of Mental Health indicates that there are as many as 25 attempts of suicide to every one that is actually committed. Therefore, seeking the assistance of a mental health professional is the best step you can take to prevent the success of any suicide attempts. Of course, if a teen is in imminent danger, call your local police station or 911. Or if you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts , call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.