Warning Signs of Suicide in Youths

Although it might not be obvious at first, teens tend to reveal signs of their suicidal thinking. In fact, it’s common for parents and friends to put the signs together after they’ve lost an adolescent they love. Other parents can learn from this mistake by paying attention to the many warning signs of teen suicide that teens frequently give away when they are contemplating suicide.

Of course, these warning signs of teen suicide when acted upon can save a teen’s life. In fact, parents will find that the warning signs of suicide are similar to those signs indicative of depression. Teen depression will often include thoughts of suicide, and untreated depression frequently leads to suicide attempts.

According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, suicide is the third leading cause of death among teens who are 15 to 24 years old. It is the sixth leading cause of death among children ages 5 to 14 years old. It is more common for male teens to attempt suicide. However, depression and suicidal thinking tends to be more common among female teens.  Regardless of gender, however, the following are common signs that parents and loved ones of teens can look for:

  • Substance use
  • Violent or rebellious behavior, including running away
  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • Loss of interest in activities a teen might enjoy
  • Having an unwillingness to accept praise or rewards
  • Significant changes in eating and sleeping habits – swinging either to too much or too little
  • Neglect of personal hygiene and appearance
  • Giving away personal belongings
  • Having thoughts about death or an obsession about death
  • Body aches such as headaches, stomachaches, fatigue or other physical symptoms
  • Trouble concentrating or focusing
  • Having a low level of energy
  • Having bizarre thoughts

These are common ways that both teens and adults respond when they are feeling suicidal. Because there are clear warning signs of teen suicide, if parents see any of these indicators, the next step is to talk to a mental health provider. With the help of a professional, a parent might then talk to their teen. One suggestion to parents is to remind their teens that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Suicide is going to rob a teen of the rest of their life, which could very well bring happiness and enjoyment, despite the way a teen might be feeling now.

It’s important that parents utilize the assistance of a mental health provider before facing the issue of suicide with their child, unless they feel entirely comfortable to do so. Because teens are going through so many emotional and  psychological changes and if the parent-teen relationship is tumultuous, it might be best for a therapist or psychologist to talk to a teen who might be suicidal.

If you recognize any of the above signs in your teen, contact a mental health provider today.


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