Suicide is when a teen causes his or her own death on purpose. Before attempting to take his or her own life, a teen may have thoughts of wanting to die. This is called suicidal ideation. He or she may also have suicidal behavior. That’s when a teen is focused on doing things that cause his or her own death.
Suicide is the third leading cause of death in young people ages 15 to 24. The CDC reports that:
The teen years are a stressful time. They are filled with major changes. These include body changes, changes in thoughts, and changes in feelings. Strong feelings of stress, confusion, fear, and doubt may influence a teen’s problem-solving and decision-making. He or she may also feel a pressure to succeed.
For some teens, normal developmental changes can be very unsettling when combined with other events, such as:
These problems may seem too hard or embarrassing to overcome. For some, suicide may seem like a solution.
A teen’s risk for suicide varies with age, gender, and cultural and social influences. Risk factors may change over time. They are:
Many of the warning signs of suicide are also symptoms of depression. They are:
Another warning sign is making plans or efforts toward committing suicide:
These signs may look like other health problems. Make sure your teen sees his or her healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
Threats of suicide are a cry for help. Always take such statements, thoughts, behaviors, or plans very seriously. Any teen who expresses thoughts of suicide should be evaluated right away. Talk with your teen’s healthcare provider.
Any teen who has tried to commit suicide needs a physical checkup first to rule out life-threatening health problems. He or she should then get a mental health evaluation and treatment until he or she is stable. This often will take place at an inpatient facility to make sure of the child’s safety.
Treatment will depend on your child’s symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is.
Treatment starts with a detailed evaluation of events in your teen’s life during the 2 to 3 days before the suicidal behaviors. Treatment may include:
Learning the warning signs of teen suicide can prevent an attempt. Keeping open communication with your teen and his or her friends gives you an opportunity to help when needed. Also take these steps:
Teens can take these steps to help prevent suicide if they see warning signs in a friend:
Call your teen’s healthcare provider right away if your teen:
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your child’s healthcare provider:
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