Teen Suicide Part 1: Is My Teen at Risk?

Reviewed May 27, 2017

Close

E-mail Article

Complete form to e-mail article…

Required fields are denoted by an asterisk (*) adjacent to the label.

Separate multiple recipients with a comma

Close

Sign-Up For Newsletters

Complete this form to sign-up for newsletters…

Required fields are denoted by an asterisk (*) adjacent to the label.

 

Summary

  • Learn the risks for suicide.
  • Take all threats seriously.
  • Get immediate expert help.

Even the most attentive parent or teacher cannot always spot danger signs in teens. One day, a high school student is floating in love; the next, she is down. Until the hormonal storms settle down, you have to expect a teen’s moods and behavior to be up, down, and all over the map.

In fact, the most obvious sign of danger may come when that erratic pattern changes, and a teen appears stuck in a single, negative frame of mind.

She may talk about being fed up with school. He may turn away from his old friends or start running around with a very different crowd. She talks incessantly about how she hates her boss at an afterschool job. Your son snaps at family members, with nothing good to say about anyone or anything. You cannot please your daughter, no matter how much you try. She is always angry, disappointed, or sad.

In fact, your teen may be so difficult to be around, you wish he would just stay in his room or go out with his friends, so you do not have to listen to so much negativity.

If this behavior is new or goes on for more than several weeks, parents should take heed. It could be a sign of serious depression. Without treatment, your teen may be at a higher risk of taking her own life. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for young people ages 12-18, according to 2014 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
 
Depression is a diagnosable and treatable condition, so it is important for a parent to get help as soon as possible for a child of any age. However, even if your teen is diagnosed with depression, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are having thoughts of suicide.

Triggers for depression and/or suicide

Depression can come on slowly or can be triggered by an event that leaves a person feeling helpless.

Is your teen dealing with any of these depression triggers?

  • Loss of a loved one, even a pet
  • Loss of a job
  • Loss of a home
  • Serious illness in the family
  • Recent divorce of parents
  • Money problems in the family
  • Substance use in the family
  • Bullying at home, school, or on a job
  • Moving to a new school

Bullying is nearly epidemic in some schools, where it wrecks young lives and even precipitates suicides.  During the 2007-2008 school year, 32 percent of U.S. students ages 12-18 reported being bullied. Some were taunted face-to-face. Others were ridiculed and humiliated in public through social media. Either way, bullying has long-term effects on a child’s mental health and suicide risk that can persist well into adulthood. That goes for both the bullies and those they go after.

Again, take bullying seriously. You can help your child by working with the school or neighborhood to stop the bullying of your teen or anyone else’s.

Signs of trouble

Keep your eyes and ears open to danger signs. Has your teen:

  • Changed appearance
  • Changed friends
  • Stopped engaging in favorite activities, such as sports, music lessons, community service, organized youth groups, or recreation
  • Lost interest in the future
  • Missed school frequently due to oversleeping or not feeling well
  • Turned inward or stopped socializing with the family
  • Started doing risky things, such as drinking, dabbling in drugs, driving too fast, playing with weapons, staying out very late, and/or getting into fights

Substance use raises the risk of suicide in several ways. First of all, alcohol is a depressant and so are many drugs people use to get high. Substance use can push a teen into depression, slowly. He may feel good while high, but crash after the drug wears off. Second, because she uses drugs or drinks, she can lose the support of her friends or family. Without that, she may drift deeper into untreated depression. Third, mind-altering substances lower a person’s inhibitions while they increase impulsiveness. Your teen might do something under the influence that he would never do, if sober.

No one behavior by itself is particularly significant, but if your teen exhibits several of these behaviors, you should take a closer look at what is going on in that child’s life. Talk to your teen and say you are concerned. Talk to parents of your teen’s friends to find out what their kids are doing.

Why is my teen at risk?

We all have losses and many of us have grown up in difficult circumstances, but some teens have more trouble handling problems than others.

“In some kids, feelings of loss are so intense, they are almost like a flash flood,” explains psychologist LeslieBeth Wish. “Suicide might seem like a good way out.” Their judgment is way behind their feelings, in the road to maturity.

Why does one child handle loss and another, cannot?

  1. Some people are predisposed to depression, especially if other family members have it. If a parent, for example, is depressed, the teen probably has had a dozen years or more to be affected by it, and may not have good mental health foundations to support him through a crisis.
  2. Not all teens have good support systems. They need continuous support from people they can trust—such as parents, friends, teachers, clergy—to help them stay on track for a healthy life.
  3. Too many bad things may pile up on someone who is not prepared to handle the load. All of a sudden, everything goes wrong. Not only did a parent punish the teen, but he got a failing grade, did not make the team, or his girlfriend found somebody else.

Depression builds on hopelessness, and that leads to despair. When the situation begins to overwhelm a person’s ability to stay emotionally afloat, suicide can look like a reasonable solution.  

We all sometimes feel powerless before an avalanche of problems. Your teen may not have any experience with solving so many problems, and believe they are taking over his life. Everything once was so easy, and now it is so difficult. Fate has turned against him, and he feels incompetent, fearful, useless, and unable to control what happens next, but there is hope.

If you or your loved one are in a crisis and need help immediately, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433) any time, any day. Or go to www.suicide.org online. These 24-hour-a-day suicide prevention lifelines are free services, available to anyone. All calls are confidential.

Resources

It Gets Better Project Inc.
Help for young LGBT in crisis 
www.itgetsbetter.org/

The Jed Foundation
Works to reduce emotional distress and prevent suicide among college students
www.jedfoundation.org/

Preventing Suicide: A Toolkit for High Schools
http://store.samhsa.gov/product/Preventing-Suicide-A-Toolkit-for-High-Schools/SMA12-4669

By Paula Hartman Cohen
Source: Gabriela Cora, MD, MBA, psychiatrist, author, wellness coach, Miami, FL; William Shryer DCSW, LCSW, Clinical Director, Diablo Behavioral Healthcare, Danville, CA; LeslieBeth Wish, EdD, MSS, psychologist, licensed clinical social worker, and Co-director of The Counseling Network of the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, Sarasota, FL, which offers free counseling for grief, post-traumatic stress and family and children needs for military families and veterans; Synopsis of Psychiatry by Benjamin J. Sadock, Virginia A. Sadock and Pedro Ruiz, MD, LWW, 11th edition, 2014.
Reviewed by Jenni Myers, LCSW, Director, Corporate Strategy, and Dale Seamans, Executive Editor, Thought Leadership, Beacon Health Options

Summary

  • Learn the risks for suicide.
  • Take all threats seriously.
  • Get immediate expert help.

Even the most attentive parent or teacher cannot always spot danger signs in teens. One day, a high school student is floating in love; the next, she is down. Until the hormonal storms settle down, you have to expect a teen’s moods and behavior to be up, down, and all over the map.

In fact, the most obvious sign of danger may come when that erratic pattern changes, and a teen appears stuck in a single, negative frame of mind.

She may talk about being fed up with school. He may turn away from his old friends or start running around with a very different crowd. She talks incessantly about how she hates her boss at an afterschool job. Your son snaps at family members, with nothing good to say about anyone or anything. You cannot please your daughter, no matter how much you try. She is always angry, disappointed, or sad.

In fact, your teen may be so difficult to be around, you wish he would just stay in his room or go out with his friends, so you do not have to listen to so much negativity.

If this behavior is new or goes on for more than several weeks, parents should take heed. It could be a sign of serious depression. Without treatment, your teen may be at a higher risk of taking her own life. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for young people ages 12-18, according to 2014 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
 
Depression is a diagnosable and treatable condition, so it is important for a parent to get help as soon as possible for a child of any age. However, even if your teen is diagnosed with depression, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are having thoughts of suicide.

Triggers for depression and/or suicide

Depression can come on slowly or can be triggered by an event that leaves a person feeling helpless.

Is your teen dealing with any of these depression triggers?

  • Loss of a loved one, even a pet
  • Loss of a job
  • Loss of a home
  • Serious illness in the family
  • Recent divorce of parents
  • Money problems in the family
  • Substance use in the family
  • Bullying at home, school, or on a job
  • Moving to a new school

Bullying is nearly epidemic in some schools, where it wrecks young lives and even precipitates suicides.  During the 2007-2008 school year, 32 percent of U.S. students ages 12-18 reported being bullied. Some were taunted face-to-face. Others were ridiculed and humiliated in public through social media. Either way, bullying has long-term effects on a child’s mental health and suicide risk that can persist well into adulthood. That goes for both the bullies and those they go after.

Again, take bullying seriously. You can help your child by working with the school or neighborhood to stop the bullying of your teen or anyone else’s.

Signs of trouble

Keep your eyes and ears open to danger signs. Has your teen:

  • Changed appearance
  • Changed friends
  • Stopped engaging in favorite activities, such as sports, music lessons, community service, organized youth groups, or recreation
  • Lost interest in the future
  • Missed school frequently due to oversleeping or not feeling well
  • Turned inward or stopped socializing with the family
  • Started doing risky things, such as drinking, dabbling in drugs, driving too fast, playing with weapons, staying out very late, and/or getting into fights

Substance use raises the risk of suicide in several ways. First of all, alcohol is a depressant and so are many drugs people use to get high. Substance use can push a teen into depression, slowly. He may feel good while high, but crash after the drug wears off. Second, because she uses drugs or drinks, she can lose the support of her friends or family. Without that, she may drift deeper into untreated depression. Third, mind-altering substances lower a person’s inhibitions while they increase impulsiveness. Your teen might do something under the influence that he would never do, if sober.

No one behavior by itself is particularly significant, but if your teen exhibits several of these behaviors, you should take a closer look at what is going on in that child’s life. Talk to your teen and say you are concerned. Talk to parents of your teen’s friends to find out what their kids are doing.

Why is my teen at risk?

We all have losses and many of us have grown up in difficult circumstances, but some teens have more trouble handling problems than others.

“In some kids, feelings of loss are so intense, they are almost like a flash flood,” explains psychologist LeslieBeth Wish. “Suicide might seem like a good way out.” Their judgment is way behind their feelings, in the road to maturity.

Why does one child handle loss and another, cannot?

  1. Some people are predisposed to depression, especially if other family members have it. If a parent, for example, is depressed, the teen probably has had a dozen years or more to be affected by it, and may not have good mental health foundations to support him through a crisis.
  2. Not all teens have good support systems. They need continuous support from people they can trust—such as parents, friends, teachers, clergy—to help them stay on track for a healthy life.
  3. Too many bad things may pile up on someone who is not prepared to handle the load. All of a sudden, everything goes wrong. Not only did a parent punish the teen, but he got a failing grade, did not make the team, or his girlfriend found somebody else.

Depression builds on hopelessness, and that leads to despair. When the situation begins to overwhelm a person’s ability to stay emotionally afloat, suicide can look like a reasonable solution.  

We all sometimes feel powerless before an avalanche of problems. Your teen may not have any experience with solving so many problems, and believe they are taking over his life. Everything once was so easy, and now it is so difficult. Fate has turned against him, and he feels incompetent, fearful, useless, and unable to control what happens next, but there is hope.

If you or your loved one are in a crisis and need help immediately, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433) any time, any day. Or go to www.suicide.org online. These 24-hour-a-day suicide prevention lifelines are free services, available to anyone. All calls are confidential.

Resources

It Gets Better Project Inc.
Help for young LGBT in crisis 
www.itgetsbetter.org/

The Jed Foundation
Works to reduce emotional distress and prevent suicide among college students
www.jedfoundation.org/

Preventing Suicide: A Toolkit for High Schools
http://store.samhsa.gov/product/Preventing-Suicide-A-Toolkit-for-High-Schools/SMA12-4669

By Paula Hartman Cohen
Source: Gabriela Cora, MD, MBA, psychiatrist, author, wellness coach, Miami, FL; William Shryer DCSW, LCSW, Clinical Director, Diablo Behavioral Healthcare, Danville, CA; LeslieBeth Wish, EdD, MSS, psychologist, licensed clinical social worker, and Co-director of The Counseling Network of the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, Sarasota, FL, which offers free counseling for grief, post-traumatic stress and family and children needs for military families and veterans; Synopsis of Psychiatry by Benjamin J. Sadock, Virginia A. Sadock and Pedro Ruiz, MD, LWW, 11th edition, 2014.
Reviewed by Jenni Myers, LCSW, Director, Corporate Strategy, and Dale Seamans, Executive Editor, Thought Leadership, Beacon Health Options

Summary

  • Learn the risks for suicide.
  • Take all threats seriously.
  • Get immediate expert help.

Even the most attentive parent or teacher cannot always spot danger signs in teens. One day, a high school student is floating in love; the next, she is down. Until the hormonal storms settle down, you have to expect a teen’s moods and behavior to be up, down, and all over the map.

In fact, the most obvious sign of danger may come when that erratic pattern changes, and a teen appears stuck in a single, negative frame of mind.

She may talk about being fed up with school. He may turn away from his old friends or start running around with a very different crowd. She talks incessantly about how she hates her boss at an afterschool job. Your son snaps at family members, with nothing good to say about anyone or anything. You cannot please your daughter, no matter how much you try. She is always angry, disappointed, or sad.

In fact, your teen may be so difficult to be around, you wish he would just stay in his room or go out with his friends, so you do not have to listen to so much negativity.

If this behavior is new or goes on for more than several weeks, parents should take heed. It could be a sign of serious depression. Without treatment, your teen may be at a higher risk of taking her own life. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for young people ages 12-18, according to 2014 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
 
Depression is a diagnosable and treatable condition, so it is important for a parent to get help as soon as possible for a child of any age. However, even if your teen is diagnosed with depression, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are having thoughts of suicide.

Triggers for depression and/or suicide

Depression can come on slowly or can be triggered by an event that leaves a person feeling helpless.

Is your teen dealing with any of these depression triggers?

  • Loss of a loved one, even a pet
  • Loss of a job
  • Loss of a home
  • Serious illness in the family
  • Recent divorce of parents
  • Money problems in the family
  • Substance use in the family
  • Bullying at home, school, or on a job
  • Moving to a new school

Bullying is nearly epidemic in some schools, where it wrecks young lives and even precipitates suicides.  During the 2007-2008 school year, 32 percent of U.S. students ages 12-18 reported being bullied. Some were taunted face-to-face. Others were ridiculed and humiliated in public through social media. Either way, bullying has long-term effects on a child’s mental health and suicide risk that can persist well into adulthood. That goes for both the bullies and those they go after.

Again, take bullying seriously. You can help your child by working with the school or neighborhood to stop the bullying of your teen or anyone else’s.

Signs of trouble

Keep your eyes and ears open to danger signs. Has your teen:

  • Changed appearance
  • Changed friends
  • Stopped engaging in favorite activities, such as sports, music lessons, community service, organized youth groups, or recreation
  • Lost interest in the future
  • Missed school frequently due to oversleeping or not feeling well
  • Turned inward or stopped socializing with the family
  • Started doing risky things, such as drinking, dabbling in drugs, driving too fast, playing with weapons, staying out very late, and/or getting into fights

Substance use raises the risk of suicide in several ways. First of all, alcohol is a depressant and so are many drugs people use to get high. Substance use can push a teen into depression, slowly. He may feel good while high, but crash after the drug wears off. Second, because she uses drugs or drinks, she can lose the support of her friends or family. Without that, she may drift deeper into untreated depression. Third, mind-altering substances lower a person’s inhibitions while they increase impulsiveness. Your teen might do something under the influence that he would never do, if sober.

No one behavior by itself is particularly significant, but if your teen exhibits several of these behaviors, you should take a closer look at what is going on in that child’s life. Talk to your teen and say you are concerned. Talk to parents of your teen’s friends to find out what their kids are doing.

Why is my teen at risk?

We all have losses and many of us have grown up in difficult circumstances, but some teens have more trouble handling problems than others.

“In some kids, feelings of loss are so intense, they are almost like a flash flood,” explains psychologist LeslieBeth Wish. “Suicide might seem like a good way out.” Their judgment is way behind their feelings, in the road to maturity.

Why does one child handle loss and another, cannot?

  1. Some people are predisposed to depression, especially if other family members have it. If a parent, for example, is depressed, the teen probably has had a dozen years or more to be affected by it, and may not have good mental health foundations to support him through a crisis.
  2. Not all teens have good support systems. They need continuous support from people they can trust—such as parents, friends, teachers, clergy—to help them stay on track for a healthy life.
  3. Too many bad things may pile up on someone who is not prepared to handle the load. All of a sudden, everything goes wrong. Not only did a parent punish the teen, but he got a failing grade, did not make the team, or his girlfriend found somebody else.

Depression builds on hopelessness, and that leads to despair. When the situation begins to overwhelm a person’s ability to stay emotionally afloat, suicide can look like a reasonable solution.  

We all sometimes feel powerless before an avalanche of problems. Your teen may not have any experience with solving so many problems, and believe they are taking over his life. Everything once was so easy, and now it is so difficult. Fate has turned against him, and he feels incompetent, fearful, useless, and unable to control what happens next, but there is hope.

If you or your loved one are in a crisis and need help immediately, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433) any time, any day. Or go to www.suicide.org online. These 24-hour-a-day suicide prevention lifelines are free services, available to anyone. All calls are confidential.

Resources

It Gets Better Project Inc.
Help for young LGBT in crisis 
www.itgetsbetter.org/

The Jed Foundation
Works to reduce emotional distress and prevent suicide among college students
www.jedfoundation.org/

Preventing Suicide: A Toolkit for High Schools
http://store.samhsa.gov/product/Preventing-Suicide-A-Toolkit-for-High-Schools/SMA12-4669

By Paula Hartman Cohen
Source: Gabriela Cora, MD, MBA, psychiatrist, author, wellness coach, Miami, FL; William Shryer DCSW, LCSW, Clinical Director, Diablo Behavioral Healthcare, Danville, CA; LeslieBeth Wish, EdD, MSS, psychologist, licensed clinical social worker, and Co-director of The Counseling Network of the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, Sarasota, FL, which offers free counseling for grief, post-traumatic stress and family and children needs for military families and veterans; Synopsis of Psychiatry by Benjamin J. Sadock, Virginia A. Sadock and Pedro Ruiz, MD, LWW, 11th edition, 2014.
Reviewed by Jenni Myers, LCSW, Director, Corporate Strategy, and Dale Seamans, Executive Editor, Thought Leadership, Beacon Health Options

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, quizzes, and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical, health care, psychiatric, psychological or behavioral health care advice. Nothing contained on the Achieve Solutions site is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care professional. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have concerns about your health, please contact your health care provider.  ©2017 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

Close

  • Useful Tools

    Select a tool below

© 2017 Beacon Health Options, Inc.