Suicide is one of the leading causes of death for 15-to-24-year-olds. Studies have shown there were warning signs in a majority of suicide attempts. That's why it's important for parents to know the warning signs and get help for their teen when they see them.
Adolescence is a difficult time as children start learning how to be adults, but are still children. They can have many feelings including stress, self-doubt, pressure to succeed and other fears. For some teens, these feelings can lead to depression and even suicidal thoughts.
A teen who is dealing with depression can start to show signs such as:
- Change in eating and sleeping habits
- Withdrawal from things they use to enjoy
- Neglecting personal hygiene and appearance
- Noticeable personality changes
- Rebellious behavior
- Drug and/or alcohol abuse
- Difficulties concentrating
- Declining grades in school
- Difficulty accepting compliments or praise
These symptoms can also be signs that a teen is having suicidal thoughts. Other signs that a teen may be considering suicide or even have a suicide plan include:
- Actually saying they want to die or are thinking about committing suicide
- Giving verbal hints such as 'I want you to know something in case I'm not here anymore' or 'I won't be a problem for you much longer'
- Writing suicide notes
- Giving away or getting rid of personal belongings
- Becoming suddenly cheerful after a period of depression
- Expressing bizarre thoughts or hallucinations
It's important parents take these statements and actions very seriously. Depression and suicidal feelings are treatable mental disorders. If a parent suspects their child may be suicidal they should seek immediate help from a mental health professional.
Parents need to be careful not to put thoughts into their teens head. That's why it's helpful to ask their child if they are depressed rather than asking if they are having suicidal thoughts. Asking if they feel depressed will reassure the teen that someone cares and allow them to discuss their feelings.
If you think your teen is depressed or needs help dealing with life's stresses, call the Gundersen Behavioral Health Assessment and Referral Team at (608) 775-7991 or (800) 362-9567, ext. 57991. They will discuss your concerns and match your child up with the appropriate service.