Last Updated: March 2021
We never want to think of our children as being at risk for suicide, but the truth is that suicide is currently the second leading cause of death among teenagers.
Take a closer look at identifying the signs of depression and suicidal ideation in teens, and how to approach suicide prevention with your child.
What Is Suicidal Ideation?
It is not uncommon for teenagers to experience feelings of anxiety and depression or to have thoughts of suicide, known as suicidal ideation.
This can occur when your teen experiences or feels:
Teens who experience this, feel like suicide is the only answer to the issues they are struggling with in life.
Teens will also often make statements like:
- “I don’t deserve good things.”
- “I don’t matter. Nobody cares.”
- “If my friends or parents knew, they’d hate me.”
- “This is never going to end.”
When to Be Concerned About Your Child’s Mental Health
If your child is having thoughts of suicide, the following mental and physical changes could be indicators that he or she may need more help.
Is your child:
- Experiencing mood swings?
- Feeling hopeless?
- Feeling humiliation or shame?
- Having a sudden deterioration of, and/or improvement in, symptoms?
- Increasing his or her substance use?
- Isolating from family and friends?
- Losing interest in things he or she once enjoyed?
- More argumentative with you?
- Sleeping more?
- Stating they have no reason to live?
The Top Risk Factors for Suicide Attempts in Teens
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention lists the following risk factors that make your teen more vulnerable to a suicide attempt.
Does your teen:
- Have a family history of mental illness or suicide?
- Have a history of previous suicide attempts?
- Have experiences with childhood abuse or neglect?
Is your teen:
- Accessing drugs, firearms or other weapons?
- Dealing with a known mental disorder?
- Experiencing pain from a physical disability or illness?
- Experiencing increased anxiety, depression or stress?
- Interested in knowing the details of another person who has committed suicide?
Additionally, children who are struggling with gender identity issues (also known as “gender dysphoria”) or who are transgender are at a higher risk for attempting suicide and can benefit from additional support from their parents.
When Suicide Prevention Involves Your Child
According to a study by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, teenagers are not going to ask for help from family or friends. Over 70% of people thinking about committing suicide do not connect those thoughts with needing mental health treatment.
It can also be difficult for parents to know when to seek help for their child from a mental health professional.
If you believe your teen or young adult is in crisis, immediately call 911 or contact the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline for immediate support by calling, texting, or chatting 988.
Embark Behavioral Health can help you find the right mental health treatment program at the right time, and we’re here when suicide prevention becomes your family’s focus. Our therapists are experts at engaging with teens and helping entire families heal and rebuild.
Contact us now and we’ll work with you to provide your child the treatment he or she needs to improve his or her mental health and well-being.