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About Teen Suicide

A storyteller-researcher who focuses on the prevention of mental disorders and substance abuse among children, youth, and young adults.


Why Do Teenagers Think About Suicide?

It could be possible to stop more tragedies if we were to understand what might cause a teen to commit suicide.
The causes of a teen's suicide attempt or actual suicide might be complicated. Even though, the fact that suicide is very uncommon in youngsters, it becomes far more common during puberty.

  • A relatively common risk factor for suicide attempts and completion is overdosing on over-the-counter, prescription, and non-prescription medications. All medications in your home should be closely monitored. You should be aware that teenagers "trade" various prescription medications at school and carry (or keep) them in their lockers or backpacks.
  • The suicide rate varies between males and females. Girls are twice as likely as boys to consider suicide, try it, and usually do so by overdosing on drugs or hurting themselves. Despite this, guys commit suicide at a rate of around four times that of girls, and experts believe this is because they frequently employ more lethal means.

What Indicates Suicide in Early Stages?

Teen suicide frequently occurs after a traumatic life event, such as poor grades, a breakup with a boyfriend or girlfriend, the loss of a loved one, a divorce, or a significant family dispute.

Teenagers who are considering suicide may:

  • discuss suicide or death generally
  • present signs that they may not be present anymore
  • Discuss your feelings of helplessness or guilt.
  • Pull away from loved ones or friends
  • Write music, poetry, or letters on loss, divorce, and death.
  • lose interest in engaging in favored activities or interest.
  • have difficulty focusing or thinking clearly
  • changing one's sleep or eating schedule
  • take risks; act in risk-taking ways
  • lose enthusiasm for sports or school

Which Teens Are at Risk for Suicide?

It can be challenging to recall how it was to be a teenager trapped between adolescence and adulthood. Yes, it is a time of great opportunity, but it can also be a time of stress and concern. There is pressure to succeed in school, fit in socially, and behave responsibly.

Additionally, adolescence is a time of gender identification, romantic relationships, and a desire for independence that frequently runs counter to social norms and expectations.

Suicidal thoughts are more likely to occur in young people who have mental health issues, such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, or sleeplessness. Teenagers who experience significant life transitions, such as parent divorce, relocation, a parent leaving the house due to military service or parental separation, and bullying are more likely to have suicidal thoughts.

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Teens are more likely to commit suicide for the following reasons:

  • a psychological condition, including depression, bipolar illness, and substance abuse (approximately 95% of suicide deaths are caused by a psychological condition).
  • sensations of anxiety, annoyance, or discomfort
  • Feelings of worthlessness and sadness are frequently associated with depression.
  • a previous attempt at suicide
  • a history of emotional, physical, or sexual abuse; a family history of depression or suicide
  • dealing with their gender identity and/or sexuality despite an unsupportive family or community, feeling socially isolated, having difficult relationships with their parents or peers, and without a support network

How Can Parents Help?

Many teenagers who commit suicide or attempt suicide have warned loved ones beforehand in some way. Because of this, it's critical for parents to be aware of the warning signals so that kids who may be suicidal can receive the support they require.
It's always a good idea to be knowledgeable and take action to assist a problematic youngster, even though it's not always preventable.
It's important to recognize that if teens are ignored when they are seeking attention, it may increase the likelihood that they damage themselves. Some adults believe that children who say they are going to hurt or kill themselves are "just doing it for attention."

Teenagers typically do not want to receive attention in the form of ER trips, doctor appointments, or residential therapy – unless they are genuinely sad and considering suicide or at the very least wishing they were dead. Warning indications should not be dismissed as "attention-seeking" and should instead be taken seriously.

Watch and Listen

Teens who are introverted and depressed should be closely monitored. Understanding teen depression is important because it might present differently from what is typically thought of as teen depression. Instead of constant depression or crying, it could develop as issues with friends, schoolwork, sleep, or being moody and irritated.

Be sure to communicate your love, support, and concern, and keep the lines of communication open. Show your teen that you take their worries seriously if they confide in you. You might not think a fight with a friend is a big issue, but for a teen, it can feel huge and consuming. Your teen may feel more hopeless if you belittle or ignore what they are going through.
If your teen is uncomfortable speaking to you, recommend a more unbiased individual, such as a different relative, a member of the church, a coach, a school counselor, or your child's doctor.

Ask questions
Some parents are hesitant to ask about suicidal or self-harming thoughts among teenagers. Some worry that by questioning, parents would give their kids the idea of suicide.
Even though it can be difficult to ask, it's always a good idea. An explanation of your motivation can occasionally be helpful. For instance, you can ask: "Have you thought about trying to kill yourself? I've observed that you've been talking a lot about wanting to be dead."

How can we get support?

Get help right away if you learn that your child is considering suicide. Your doctor can recommend a psychologist or psychiatrist, and the psychiatry department of your neighborhood hospital can provide you with a list of nearby practitioners. You can also get references from your county medical society or local mental health organization.

Your neighborhood emergency room can provide a mental evaluation and direct you to the appropriate services if your teen is experiencing a crisis. Call your doctor if you're unclear if you should take your child to the emergency room.
Even if your kid claims to be feeling better or refuses to go, keep the appointment if you've made one with a mental health expert. Suicidal ideas certainly have a tendency to come and go. However, your kid needs assistance in order to acquire the abilities necessary to manage suicidal thoughts and actions in the face of a crisis.

Inform the mental health expert if your kid refuses to attend the appointment. You can continue to get the assistance your child requires by attending the session and collaborating with the clinician yourself. The therapist can also go over strategies that can persuade your adolescent to accept help.
Keep in mind that teenagers who feel alone, misunderstood, undervalued, or suicidal may experience worsening conditions as a result of disputes between a parent and child. Get assistance with family issues and find a healthy solution. If there has ever been domestic violence, substance addiction, or depression in your family, let the mental health professional know. Discuss any additional difficulties you may be experiencing at home, such as a continual criticizing culture.

If You've Lost a Child to Suicide

The death of a child is the worst loss a parent may experience. The suffering and sadness of parents who have lost a child to suicide can become more intense. These emotions might not ever totally vanish. However, those who have committed suicide can take efforts to start the healing process:

  • Remain in touch with others. Friends frequently don't know what to say or how to aid after a suicide, which can isolate remaining family members. Find encouraging people to discuss your child and your feelings with. If individuals close to you don't feel comfortable reaching out, strike starts a conversation and asks for assistance.
  • Keep in mind that everyone handles loss differently and that your other family members are also experiencing grief. Particularly your other kids could want to handle their suffering on their own so as not to burden you. Be there for one another during times of sadness, rage, and quiet. If required, seek out support and assistance for one another.
  • Be prepared for holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries to be challenging. Important occasions and holidays frequently bring back feelings of loss and fear. When that happens, do what will serve your emotional needs the best, whether that is to spend the day alone or in the company of loved ones.
  • Recognize that feeling guilty and wondering how this could have happened are common. However, it's equally critical to understand that you might never find the solutions you're looking for. Reaching a place of forgiveness—for both your child and yourself—is the key to the long-term recovery.
  • You can learn that you are not alone with the help of counseling and support groups. The suicide prevention network, which teaches parents, youth, and schools how to help avoid such tragedies, occasionally includes bereaved family members as members.

© 2022 Charlene Grendon

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