Teen Suicide Warning Signs and Prevention

Suicide and Teens

Teen Suicide Warning Signs and Prevention

Suicide occurs when a person chooses to end his or her life. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2019 suicide was the second leading cause of death among children and adolescents ages 13 to 19 — and the leading cause of death among 13-year-olds. It is the 10th leading cause of deaths among all Americans.

Research shows that suicidal thoughts and behaviors are the greatest predictors of suicide.

These include passive thoughts of wanting to be dead, recurrent thoughts about ending one’s life, plans and behaviors that “rehearse” killing oneself, and suicide attempts. According to 2019 statistics from the CDC, 8.

9 percent of high school students surveyed attempted suicide and 18.8 percent of high school students “seriously considered” attempting suicide.

What are some potential causes of suicidal thoughts?

Research shows that up to 90 percent of people who have died by suicide suffered from a mental illness. Impulsivity and substance use, including alcohol and drugs, also are warning signs for elevated suicide risk.

It is important to remember that suicidal thoughts and behaviors are not the natural consequence of serious life stresses.

People who experience a stressful life event may feel intense sadness or loss, anxiety, anger, or hopelessness, and may occasionally have the thought that they would be better off dead.

In most people, however, experiences of stressful life events do not trigger recurring thoughts of death, creation of a suicide plan, or intent to die. If any of these are present, it suggests that the person is suffering from depression or another psychiatric disorder and should seek professional treatment.

What are the signs of suicidal ideation?

The primary sign of suicidal thoughts is talking about suicide or doing something to try to harm oneself. If your child expresses suicidal thoughts or exhibits self-harming behaviors, seek professional help.

There are many warning signs and risk factors for suicide. The list below is not exhaustive, but is intended to provide insight into what factors might elevate a child or adolescent’s level of suicide risk.

This does not mean that if your child or adolescent has some of these risk factors, then s/he will automatically take his/her own life. Suicide risk takes into account many factors and needs to be continuously monitored by a mental health professional.

Remember that many factors combine to lead to a suicidal crisis and may include some of those that are listed below.

  • mental illness or psychiatric diagnosis
  • family history of suicide and/or exposure to suicide
  • family history of mental illness
  • physical or sexual abuse
  • losses
  • aggressive behavior or impulsivity
  • lack of social support or social isolation
  • poor coping skills
  • access to ways of harming oneself, guns, knives, etc.
  • difficulties in dealing with sexual orientation
  • physical illness
  • family disruptions (divorce or problems with the law)
  • traumatic event

Warning signs include:

  • preoccupation with death (e.g., recurring themes of death or self-destruction in artwork or written assignments
  • intense sadness and/or hopelessness
  • not caring about activities that used to matter
  • social withdrawal from family, friends, sports, or social activities
  • substance abuse
  • sleep disturbance (either not sleeping or staying awake all night)
  • giving away possessions
  • risky behavior
  • lack of energy
  • inability to think clearly or problems with concentration
  • declining school performance or increased absences from school
  • increased irritability
  • changes in appetite

How common is suicide?

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among teenagers in the United States. In 2019, the most recent year for which data are available, more than 47,000 suicide deaths were reported nationally — including about 2,600 teenagers.

How can I tell if my child is having suicidal thoughts?

You can start by asking your child if he or she is thinking about suicide. Be sure to ask them in clear, straight-forward language , “I’m worried about you. Have you been having thoughts about wanting to die or killing yourself?” People who attempt or complete suicide often exhibit a number of warning signs, either through what they say or by what they do.

The more warning signs a teenager exhibits, the higher the risk of completing suicide. If you think your child might be at risk for suicide, you should have him/her evaluated by a professional. You could call your primary care physician, your child’s therapist or psychiatrist, your local mobile crisis team, or visit the closest emergency department.

In an emergency, you should call 911.

What is the difference between suicide in children and suicide in adults?

Suicide is the second leading cause of death in young people between the ages of 10 and 19, and it is the 10th leading cause of death for all Americans. Firearms are the most frequently used method for death by suicide in the United States. The most frequent methods used by teenagers are by firearm or suffocation, which account for 84.5 percent of teen suicide deaths.

How is suicide risk assessed?

Suicide screenings may be done by health care providers such as pediatricians and nurses as part of standard health assessments.

Suicide risk is assessed by trained mental health professionals, including psychiatrists, clinical social workers, clinical psychologists, psychiatric nurses, and mental health counselors.

For rapid assessment of suicide risk, you should access care through your primary care physician, a local crisis team, or your local emergency department.

If my child is suicidal, what happens next?

The mental health professional who assesses your child should work with you and your child to acquire appropriate treatment. Treatment may include an inpatient psychiatric hospitalization, a partial hospitalization/day program, outpatient psychotherapy, home-based therapy, psychiatric medication, or some combination of the above.

How can I prevent suicide?

You can prevent suicide by being on the lookout for the warning signs mentioned above. You can also prevent suicide by asking about it. Studies show that people do not start thinking about suicide just because someone asks them about it.

If you suspect your child or adolescent is suicidal, tell them that you are worried and want to help them. Remember, sometimes children or adolescents who are thinking about suicide won’t tell you because they are worried how you will react. Your direct, non-judgmental questions can encourage them to share their thoughts and feelings with you.

Regardless of their response, if you suspect that the person may be suicidal, get them help immediately.

What is the long-term outlook for a child who is suicidal?

With the right help, a child who is suicidal can make a full recovery and live a fully productive life.

Where can I go to learn more?

Источник: https://www.childrenshospital.org/conditions-and-treatments/conditions/s/suicide-and-teens

Teen suicide: Risk factors, warning signs and prevention

Teen Suicide Warning Signs and Prevention

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the second leading cause of death for young people between the ages of 10 to 24.

If you or someone you know needs help, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline  at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or the Lifeline crisis chat. In an emergency, call 911.


Sources: National Prevention Suicide Lifeline, National Alliance for Mental Illness

  • Talking about wanting to die or to kill themselves
  • Looking for a way to kill themselves, searching online or buying a gun
  • Feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  •  Increasing use of alcohol or drugs
  • Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Withdrawing or isolating themselves
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  • Extreme mood swings; sudden changes in personality
  • Running away from home


Source: Child Mind Institute

  • A recent or serious loss;  might include the death of a family member, a friend or a pet. The separation or a divorce of parents, or a breakup with a boyfriend or a girlfriend, can also be felt as a profound loss, along with a parent losing a job, or the family losing their home.
  • A psychiatric disorder, particularly a mood disorder depression, or a trauma- and stress-related disorder.
  • Prior suicide attempts increase risk for another suicide attempt.
  • ·Alcohol and other substance use disorders, as well as getting into a lot of trouble, having disciplinary problems, engaging in a lot of high-risk behaviors.
  • Struggling with sexual orientation in an environment that is not respectful or accepting of that orientation. The issue is not whether a child is gay or lesbian, but whether he or she is struggling to come out in an unsupportive environment.
  • A family history of suicide is something that can be really significant and concerning, as is a history of domestic violence, child abuse or neglect.
  • Lack of social support. A child who doesn't feel support from significant adults in her life, as well as her friends, can become so isolated that suicide seems to present the only way her problems.
  • Bullying. We know that being a victim of bullying is a risk factor, but there's also some evidence that kids who are bullies may be at increased risk for suicidal behavior.
  • Access to lethal means, firearms and pills.
  • Stigma associated with asking for help. One of the things we know is that the more hopeless and helpless people feel, the more ly they are to choose to hurt themselves or end their life. Similarly, if they feel a lot of guilt or shame, or if they feel worthless or have low self-esteem.
  • Barriers to accessing services: Difficulties in getting much-needed services include lack of bilingual service providers, unreliable transportation, and the financial cost of services.
  • Cultural and religious beliefs that suicide is a noble way to resolve a personal dilemma.


Here are just some of the many resources available online:

What makes the teenage brain susceptible to s… 02:44

A parent's guide to helping a child in distress

Symptoms of depression in teenagers

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline |  Youth page

Suicide Safety on  Social Media

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

JED Foundation

The Trevor Project

National Institute of Mental Health

Suicide Prevention Resource Center

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Healthy Children.org:  Help stop teen suicide


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Data from 2013-2014 translates into 2.6 million Americans between 18-25 contemplating ending their lives

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Bullying: Words Can Kill

A «48 Hours» special on bullying in the digital age

First published on June 16, 2017 / 6:02 PM

© 2017 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Источник: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/teen-suicide-risk-factors-warning-signs-and-prevention/

Suicide Prevention, Children Ages 10 to 19 Years

Teen Suicide Warning Signs and Prevention

As a parent or caregiver, you can play a major role in identifying if a young person is considering suicide.

What are suicidal behaviors?

  • Suicide occurs when someone purposely takes his or her own life.
  • A suicide attempt occurs when someone tries to take their own life but does not succeed.

    The person who survives may have serious injuries such as brain damage, broken bones, and organ failure. The survivor may also have depression or other mental health issues.

  • Suicidal ideation occurs when someone is thinking about taking their life.

Why do teens become suicidal?

There are many reasons why teens become suicidal. A suicide rarely has just one cause.

The teen years are an extremely stressful time for many children.Untreated mental illness, especially depression, is the leading cause for suicide.

Many people who die by suicide suffer from untreated or poorly treated depression resulting from difficult life experiences.

These life experiences might include family changes or illness, loss of family or friends, and feeling lonely, helpless, hopeless or depressed.

How do I know if my teen is at risk for suicide?

The following factors may increase the risk of suicide or attempted suicide. However, these risk factors do not always lead to a suicide.

  • Depression and other mental disorders, or a substance-abuse disorder (often combined with other mental disorders)
  • Feeling hopeless and worthless
  • Previous suicide attempt(s)
  • Physical illness
  • Feeling detached and isolated from friends, peers and family
  • Family history of suicide, mental illness, or depression
  • Family violence, including physical or sexual abuse
  • Access to a weapon in the home
  • Knowing someone with suicidal behavior, such as a family member, friend , or celebrity
  • Coping with being gay (homosexuality) in an unsupportive family, community, or hostile school environment
  • Incarceration (time in prison)

What factors can help protect my teen from becoming suicidal?

  • Effective medical treatment for mental and physical health problems and substance abuse
  • Strong support network of friends, family, peer groups or outside activities
  • Skills in solving problems, resolving conflicts and handling disputes without violence
  • Cultural and/or religious beliefs that discourage suicide

What are warning signs or behaviors that my teen may be thinking about suicide?

Teen suicide often occurs after a recent stressful life event in the family, with a friend, or at school. It is important for you to know the warning signs for suicide so you can get your teen the help she/he needs. A teen who is considering suicide might have one or more of these behaviors:

  • Suicidal ideation (thinking, writing, drawing or talking about suicide, death, dying or the afterlife)
  • Dependence on alcohol or drugs
  • Lack of a sense of purpose in life
  • Trouble focusing or thinking clearly
  • Increased withdrawal from family, friends, school, jobs and society. Poor grades may be a sign that the child is withdrawing at school.
  • Lack of interest in favorite activities
  • Reckless or risk-taking behaviors
  • Rash, bizarre or violent behavior
  • Changed eating or sleeping patterns (such as being unable to sleep or sleeping all the time)
  • Deep feelings of grief, uncontrolled anger, anxiety, shame, hopelessness, guilt or anxiety

What are signs that my teen may have a suicide plan?

  • Threatening to or talking about wanting to hurt or kill him/herself
  • Creating suicide notes
  • Expressing odd or troubling thoughts
  • Showing a dramatic change in personality or appearance
  • Throwing or giving away or promising to give away valued possessions to family members or friends
  • Talking about not being around in the future or «going away»
  • Searching for and trying to obtain weapons, pills, or other means ways to take their own life

How can I help a teen who is thinking or talking about suicide?

  • Do not ignore these warning signs.
  • Talk openly with your child and express concern, support, and love. If your child does not feel comfortable talking to you, suggest that s/he talk to another trusted adult such as a family member, a pastor, minister, rabbi or priest, a coach, a school counselor, or a family doctor.
  • Do not leave your teen alone.
  • Remove the objects your child might use to harm him/herself. Make sure your teen does not have access to guns, other possible weapons or medications.
  • Seek help immediately from:
    • Your child's doctor;
    • Mental health services (Ask your doctor for a referral.);
    • The nearest emergency room;
    • Emergency services (911); and/or
    • A suicide hotline.

Timothy's Law requires that health insurance providers provide comparable (similar) coverage for mental illnesses as they provide for other medical care. Timothy's Law ensures that adults and children with mental illness receive the same health care coverage benefits as those provided for physical ailments.

Only people covered by group health insurance or a school blanket health insurance policy are eligible for the mental health benefits required by Timothy's Law.

Group health insurance is insurance that you obtain through an employer or through an association, such as a chamber of commerce.

A school blanket health insurance policy covers students enrolled in a college or university who purchase their insurance through the school.

Where can I find more information?

Источник: https://www.health.ny.gov/prevention/injury_prevention/children/fact_sheets/10-19_years/suicide_prevention_10-19_years.htm

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