Believe it or not children between the ages of 5 to 14 years old can experience depression and even commit suicide. According to research, there is a clear relationship between depression and suicide. And among preteens suicide is the sixth leading cause of death. Approximately 2% of preteens experience depression.
Depression is a mental illness experienced by pre-teens and adolescents that include 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, which they may interpret as being typical for adolescence. However, what some parents may be seeing are signs of depression.
Because of the physical changes your child may be experiencing during the pre-teen years, there will certainly be occasional mood swings as a result. And you might also see a sullen mood in your teen as a result of certain disappointing situations. Yet, a teen’s mood will usually improve after they’ve gotten over their disappointment or sadness. If you notice that your child is frequently sad and that these periods of sadness are triggered by small things and those periods are lasting a while, then there might be reason to be concerned.
Here are some additional signs that your pre-teen may need help:
- extreme mood swings
- feeling helpless
- feeling hopeless
- withdrawing from family and/or friends
- feeling alone or lonely
- experiencing fear
- feeling out of control
- having an overwhelming feeling of loss
- lacking energy
- inability to concentrate
- being reckless
- loss of appetite
- extreme changes in weight
- changes in sleeping patterns
- losing interest in school or poor grades
Furthermore, here are some signs that your pre-teen may be contemplating suicide:
- talk about dying
- make threats of suicide – either direct or indirect
- obsession with death
- giving or throwing away favorite possessions
- verbal hints such as “I won’t be around much longer” or “It’s hopeless.
Keep in mind that if your child has attempted suicide in the past, your teen is more at risk for attempting suicide again. Other risk factors include:
- use of drugs or alcohol
- lack of support
- your child has an intent to commit suicide along with a plan and means to do so
- recently experiencing a loss
- your child is experiencing a terminal illness
Teen suicide is becoming a national crisis. Yet, suicide can be prevented with the right support. If you see any of the above signs in your child, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. They are funded by the Federal Government and their mission is to provide immediate assistance to individuals in suicidal crisis by connecting them to the nearest available suicide prevention and mental health service provider. Their number is 800-273-8255. Or call your local mental health provider for support.