Suicide Prevention For Teens
Teen suicide devastates family and communities causing feelings of pain, guilt and unanswered questions in those left behind. Suicide prevention efforts aimed at young people can save lives and spare family and friends the heartbreak of coping with the aftermath of an avoidable tragedy.
In Australia, suicide claims nearly as many young people’s lives as automobile accidents. These deaths and the hardships that follow for the communities and families connected to youth suicide victims are preventable. Understanding causes and warning signs of youth suicide can help improve suicide prevention efforts for the young.
Adolescence is a difficult time, as teens face many changes as they grow to adulthood. For some teens, the pressures and stress of this turbulent period seem overwhelming, and thoughts of suicide may seem like an attractive escape. Some issues that teens may be dealing with that can contribute to suicidal thoughts include:
- Family turmoil, such as parents’ divorce, the loss of a family member or a change in the family’s financial status.
- Bullying which is a pernicious problem for teens that can have widespread impact, such as feelings of worthlessness and helplessness that can lead to suicidal ideations. Bullying victims often keep silent about their suffering, embarrassed or afraid to tell parents or other adults. By keeping an open line of communication with your teen, you can better assess whether he or she is being bullied, and help mitigate the damage before it can result in long-lasting negative impacts.
- Intense pressure to perform academically or in extra-curricular activities may create an unbearable level of stress that can push some youth to suicide.
- Traumatic events, such as the loss of a friend or loved one, abuse or rape may also contribute to despair and thoughts of suicide.
Clear And Present Danger
While it’s perfectly normal for teens to experience depression at various points in their adolescence, there are some signs that what your teen is going through is more than just a rough patch. Some clear warning signs you should be aware of include:
- Threats of suicide or written suicide plans.
- Hoarding of materials that could facilitate a suicide, such as pills, rope, sharp objects or a firearm.
- Making a will or giving away personal belongings.
- Excessive drug or alcohol use.
- Previous suicide or self-injury attempts.
- Lack of interest in the future and reckless behaviour.
If your teen exhibits these warning signs, take action. Talk to your teen about their feelings and encourage them to see a mental health care provider. Watch them carefully and limit their access to items that may be used in a suicide attempt.
For parents, peers or others concerned about youth suicide, the Western Sydney Suicide Prevention & Support Network can provide information and counselling to help in youth suicide prevention.
If you would like information about how to get help please go here to our resources page.