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Addressing The Problem Of Teen Suicide

Teen suicide is one of the leading causes of death among teens.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the second cause of death among 15 to 24 year olds and the third cause of death among 10 to 14 years olds.

These statistics prove addressing the problem of teen suicide is a necessity.

Causes Of Suicide

The most common cause of teen suicide is depression.

Depression symptoms include a loss of interest in normal activities, sadness, irritability, mood swings, anxiety, changes in weight, changes in sleep patterns, feeling of worthlessness, low self-esteem and excessive guilt. Depression can be related to neurochemical brain imbalances, life circumstances and/or a feeling of hopelessness.

Substance abuse is also a leading cause of teen suicide.

Teens that use drugs and alcohol may be using them to deal with personal problems, depression and other types of mental illness such as bipolar disorder, ADHD, and anxiety and/or family problems. Peer pressure also drives teens to use drugs and alcohol.

The use of substances further exacerbates personal problems and mental illness. In addition, it increases the likelihood of suicide when the teen is under the influence of drugs and alcohol and willing to do things that would not be done in a sober state of mind.

Other causes include personal problems such as the breakup of a relationship, family problems, social problems, difficulty with school, peer rejection and bullying.

One of the reasons teens are at risk with these types of life problems is they don’t have skills enabling them to recognize they won’t always feel as bad as they do at that moment.

If they don’t have a network of support through friends and family, they feel completely alone and can lose hope quickly. They are also very idealistic and tend to idealize relationships and situations.

When there is the loss of a relationship or opportunity, they fall incredibly hard.   

Prevention of Suicide     

There are a number of things that can be done to prevent suicide.

The most important is to help your teen to become more resilient.

Resiliency helps teens to deal with the problems they experience. You do this by teaching your teen to problem solve.

Teens that can problem solve recognize there are things that can be done to handle difficult situations which gives them hope and a feeling of control. This minimizes feelings of hopelessness and helplessness.

Connection with others is also an important part of resiliency.

Encourage your teen to be involved with the church youth group, community groups, sports, school activities and volunteer opportunities.  

Promote relationships with family and extended family and mentors if the teen doesn’t have both a father and mother in the home.

Minimizing problems in the home and having a stable home life is important to teens.

Teens with dysfunctional homes are at higher risk for depression, substance abuse, acting out and problems in school. Even though teens may act like they don’t care, they want connection with their parents and are affected by what goes on in their homes and in their parents’ lives.

When teens see their parents not handling their own lives well that they are extremely judgmental and may feel their parents are hypocrites to give advice.

This is best dealt with by modeling getting help for your own problems.

Keep open the doors of communication with your teen no matter what the topic may be.

Pay attention to what your teen is doing and listening to. This means online and the friends he/she is spending time with. Some social networking sites encourage suicide by promoting suicide pacts and glorifying those who have already committed suicide.

If your teen is viewing sites that glorify death and suicide, this is a warning sign that must be taken seriously.

In addition, some music focuses on darkness and death and can prompt thoughts of suicide.  A teen that is talking and thinking about suicide may be contemplating suicide.

There is a time for professional help.

If your teen is using substances (drugs or alcohol), showing signs of mental illness, struggling in their peer or family relationships, or talking or thinking about suicide, professional counseling should be considered.

Teens don’t often like to go so consider making a deal that they have to go three times and if they do not like it, they can quit. Once they find that a therapist is there just to listen to them, they often want to return.

For teens more troubled, you may need a drug treatment or residential treatment program that addresses the substance abuse and/or mental illness, as well as family problems. Find help for teens that are struggling with school.

School counselors can offer suggestions to help your teen do better. You may also want to consider additional help such as biofeedback and tutoring.

Medication may be necessary to deal with neurochemical brain imbalances but should be given by a psychiatrist, as some teens have an increased risk of suicide with medication.      

Teen suicide is a real problem. Prevent suicide by paying attention to what is going on in your teen’s life and addressing the problems. You aren’t alone. There are people there to help you and your teen.

For help with suicidal thoughts contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) or the online Lifeline Crisis Chat at http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/GetHelp/LifelineChat.aspx.

About The Author

This post is by Karla Downing, M.A., Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, author and founder of ChangeMyRelationship. Karla grew up in a dysfunctional family and eventually found herself in a difficult marriage. Through her personal struggles, she discovered biblical and practical principles she now teaches to others to change their lives and relationships. I’m signed up for her free relationship tips and truths and I encourage you to visit her website and sign up for them.

Author Chaleigh Glass offers four things to remember when we’re dealing with troubled teen.  Click here to learn what they are.

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