Topics: Teen Suicide
Thousands of words have been written or spoken since the news of Robin Williams’ death. People describe the shock they felt upon hearing the news, the sadness they experienced, the sense of loss, and most were left asking, “what could have been done to prevent it?”
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline notes that “Suicide is complex. There are almost always multiple causes, including psychiatric illnesses, which may not have been recognized or treated. However, these illnesses are treatable.” There are stories of hope and recovery but suicide prevention begins with awareness. The following information is from The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
Be aware of Warning Signs of Suicide:
- Talking about wanting to die
- Looking for a way to kill oneself
- Talking about feeling of hopelessness or having no purpose
- Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
- Talking about being a burden to others
- Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
- Acting anxious, agitated or recklessly
- Sleeping too little or too much
- Withdrawing or feeling isolated
- Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
- Displaying extreme mood swings
The more of these signs a person shows, the greater the risk. Please be aware that these warning signs are associated with suicide, but may not always lead to suicide.
Know What To Do!
If someone you know exhibits warning signs of suicide:
- Do not leave the person alone
- Remove any firearms, alcohol, drugs or sharp objects that could be used in a suicide attempt
- Call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK FREE (8255)
- Take the person to an emergency room to seek help from a medical or mental health professional
Closer to home, in Texas, one in seven Hispanic high schoolers are reported to have a suicide plan. In Bexar County, eight people under the age of 18 have died by suicide as of July 31; a rise in the suicide rate. There are many local and state resources available for suicide prevention. Become familiar with the information.
September 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day and National Suicide Prevention Week is September 8-14. Support these events by taking the time to become aware. Participate in a local event. Taking action may be the difference that's needed to prevent a loss.
In her May post, 10 Reasons Teens Avoid Telling Parents About Suicidal Thoughts, Stacey Freedenthal, PhD, LCSW, notes that the biggest reason she hears why teens don’t talk to their parents about their suicidal thoughts is their perception that their parents would “freak out.”
The idea that a child is struggling with these thoughts can create a number of responses from parents or other family members, and understandably so. However, most parents aren’t prepared for this kind of conversation. And unfortunately, as Ms. Freedenthal outlines in her article, some of the responses are not helpful for a child or adolescent who expresses thoughts about harming themselves.
So what should a parent do? First, be aware of the warning signs. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry provides a helpful resource called Facts for Families about Teen Suicide. If there is a concern about a child, note some of the signs outlined in this and other documents. These include outward signs and well as verbal cues.
Next, be prepared to talk. Or more importantly, be prepared to listen. Effectively listening to your child is helpful. Keep in mind, too, depression and suicidal feelings are treatable mental disorders. But it begins with a conversation.
For a parent, family member or friend worried about whether a child or teen is considering suicide, it’s essential to learn more about the warning signs. There are many excellent resources available with important information. Here are resources from the American Psychological Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics about risk factors and preventing teen suicide. Click on this link to the Suicide Prevention Resource Center for more information. You can also watch this video from a presentation at Clarity Child Guidance Center. Stay informed and when needed, seek help.
If you are considering suicide, please speak to someone first. Here are numbers you can call right now.