How to Prevent Suicide in Teens? What Parents can do to Help
Is your teen dealing with suicidal thoughts?
Although suicide is a sensitive subject, it is also too vital to dismiss. When a teen discusses or writes about trying to kill him, it is simply dismissed as his "cry for help." Many would write it off as teen melodrama and most parents make this mistake. It is important to respond to suicide threats and warning signs. You cannot take the chance.
There are many risk factors and warning signs that put a child on the verge of committing suicide. As a parent, you should watch out for any warning signals that your child may be exhibiting if he has suicidal thoughts.
What causes teens vulnerable to suicide?
Suicide is the third major cause of death in youngsters aged 13 to 21. The teen years are a challenging time. These years bring about a lot of significant changes, such as biological changes, changes in how we think, emotional changes, and the development of sexual awareness. These changes have a great impact on the mental health and social life of a teen.
Suicidal ideation in teens has many major causes. It is often caused by depression, social difficulties, academic stress, stress from peers and family and bullying. It is terrible that some teens perceive suicide as a permanent solution to their temporary issues.
7 Key risk factors for suicide in teens
Lack of social support:
A kid who does not have any significant adults in life is likely to become isolated. In the absence of emotional support from friends and family, a child may feel lonely and choose suicide as the only option to end their problems.
Alcohol and drug use:
Teenagers frequently experiment with harmful substances and alcohol. Alcohol addiction can cause negative thoughts, worry, and anxiety. Suicide is one of the terrible outcomes of drug addiction.
A Psychiatric disorder:
The majority of teenagers who attempt suicide have a history of mental illness. A study suggests that the risk of suicide is increased by more than 50 % for a depressed teen. Psychological disorders, particularly depression and bipolar disorder are the major contributing factors to suicidal thoughts in teens.
A study on teen suicide conducted by Yale University a few years ago revealed the startling finding that bullying victims are 2 to 9 times more likely to attempt suicide than non-victims. After being bullied for a long period, a child feels hopelessness, a feeling of loneliness and depression and these emotions are strongly linked to suicidal ideation and suicide attempts in teens.
Losing someone close to suicide:
Witnessing the suicide of a closer family member or a friend has a great impact on the mind of a teen. Youngsters who have witnessed or have knowledge about the suicide of someone they know are more likely to consider suicide as a permanent answer to their temporary problems.
Stress in academics:
Unhealthy competition in the classrooms, peer pressure, pressure to increase academic performance from parents and teachers and last-minute academic pressure during exam are all major reasons that cause stress among teens. This academic stress is a major key factor for suicidal ideation and attempts in teens.
Physical or sexual abuse:
Physical and sexual abuse are consistently associated with suicidal tendencies. Teens who are victims of physical or sexual abuse are more likely to consider and attempt suicide.
10 red flags that a teen might be suicidal
No one just commits suicide out of blue. Teens usually display a large number of warning signs before attempting to do “UNTHINKABLE”. Unfortunately, the majority of these warning signs are dismissed as a result of adolescent development. Not every teenager shows the same signs of suicidal tendencies however those who exhibit the warning symptoms listed below are often at increased risk of suicide.
- Sudden change is behaviour and frequent mood swings
- Isolation from friends and family, cutting off social contacts
- Having trouble focusing on academic
- Sudden episodes of impulsive, aggressive, violent behaviour or angry verbal outbursts
- Increasing use of Alcohol and drugs
- Attempting to hurt oneself physically
- Change in eating habits, losing or gaining weight
- Change in personality, appearance and sleep pattern
- Threatening suicide or talking about wanting to die
- Uses phrases like "hopeless," "no reason to live," "being a burden to others,"
All of the above signs are indications that your teens are might be passing through a very difficult phase of life and may be at high risk to commit suicide.
A Guide For Parents
This suicidal ideation and previous suicidal attempts must be taken seriously and get help immediately before it is too late. As parents, we have to assist our teens in coping when life gets too challenging for them to handle.
These 6 steps can help
Express your concern (mention suicide):
Do not wait for your kid to come to you. Ask your teen what's wrong if you see that he or she is struggling or acting unhappy, anxious, or depressed. Never hesitate to express your concern. It is a great myth that using work ‘suicide’ might plant the idea but it is another way around. Make it clear to your child that you understand and care about them.
Listen _ even when your child is not talking:
If a teen is thinking about or planning to attempt suicide, he or she is likely to exhibit many warning signs. Keep an eye out for significant changes in your teen's behaviour, such as a change in eating or sleeping habits or an increase in solitude. Pay attention to what your child is saying and how he behaves. Do not dismiss this as teen drama; you may regret it.
Do not overlook it as a teen problem if you observe that your child is using self-isolation as an excuse to avoid spending time with friends and relatives. Isolation can increase suicidal behaviours Encourage your child to socialise more. Spend more time with your youngster by playing games or watching movies with him. This sends a signal that you are there.
Monitor use of social media:
Check the social media accounts of your kids. Although social media is a strong instrument that has many positive uses, it also has a negative side. Social media can expose a child to online bullying, rumours, addiction to online gambling, unrealistic views about the world, peer pressure and physical insecurity. There is enough evidence that the internet and social media can influence suicide-related behaviour. Keeping an eye on your youngster’s social media account can help you better understand his behaviour.
Get professional help immediately:
If you sense your kid is showing suicidal tendency, immediately seek out the help of an experienced mental health professional with specialized training in treating teenagers. Help your kid with his treatment. Make him understand that mental health is also part of the total health and that seeking professional help is a sign of self-respect and maturity.
Restricted access to firearms and other lethal tools:
According to a study that was published in journals.laww, firearms are responsible for more than 50% of suicides. If your teen is battling suicidal thoughts or has made a suicide attempt, removing firearms and other lethal equipment from your home is the safest and most important measure.
The fact that teen suicide results in death is really tragic. Your teen may have a friend or classmate who committed suicide as a result of not receiving assistance when it was required. Don't allow your kids take the same route. Be available for your child at all times if they show any suicidal tendencies or warning signals. Assist him or her in overcoming the immense challenges they are currently experiencing. If necessary, don't be afraid to seek expert assistance.