Teen Troubles: Suicide

Each year in the US, thousands of teenagers commit suicide. Suicide is the third leading cause of death for 15-to-24-year-olds, and the sixth leading cause of death for 5-to-14-year-olds. Teenagers experience strong feelings of stress, confusion, self-doubt, pressure to succeed, financial uncertainty, and other fears while growing up. For some teenagers, divorce, the formation of a new family with step-parents and step-siblings, or moving to a new community can be very unsettling and can intensify self-doubts. In some cases, suicide appears to be a solution to a life of pain and sorrow.

Depression and suicidal feelings are treatable mental disorders. The child needs to have her illness recognized and diagnosed, and appropriate treatment plans developed. When parents are in doubt whether their child has a serious problem, a psychiatric examination can be very helpful. Many of the symptoms of suicidal feelings are similar to those of depression. The following activities might be signs of suicidal tendencies in teens:

If one or more of these signs occurs, talk to your child about their concerns and seek professional help when the concerns persist. If a child or adolescent says, "I want to kill myself," or "I'm going to commit suicide," always take the statement seriously and seek evaluation from a child and adolescent psychiatrist or other physician. People often feel uncomfortable talking about death. However, asking the child or adolescent whether he or she is depressed or thinking about suicide can be helpful. Asking your child about your concerns will provide assurance that somebody cares and will give the young person the chance to talk about problems. With support from family and professional treatment, children and teenagers who are suicidal can heal and return to a healthier path of development.