fbpx
^ Back to Top
954-260-0805

Mental Wellness

Mental Health Awareness Month: Teen Suicide Prevention, What Parents Need to Know

Posted by Sue Scheff on May 01, 2019  /   Posted in Featured Article, Parenting Teens, Teen Help, Teen Suicide Prevention, Troubled Teens

Teen Suicide: Know the Warning Signs

Help Your Teens bigstock-Mother-And-Teenage-Daughter-Ta-196835089-300x200 Mental Health Awareness Month: Teen Suicide Prevention, What Parents Need to Know By Mary Helen Berg, Your Teen Magazine

When Clark Flatt’s 16-year-old son killed himself with a .38 caliber pistol nearly two decades ago, no one in his community, school, or church was talking about suicide.

“We talked about drugs; we talked about bullying. No one ever mentioned teen suicide as a threat to my son,“ recalls Flatt, who today is president of the non-profit Jason Foundation, a suicide education and prevention organization. “If I had gone through and learned about the warning signs, I might not have thought ‘suicide,’ but I would have said, ‘I need to get some professional help for him.’”

Parents often think suicide can’t happen in their family and avoid talking about it. But teen suicide is now the second leading cause of death for adolescents, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Only accidents, including car crashes and overdoses, kill more people ages 10 to 24.

“Suicide doesn’t just happen to other people,” Flatt says. “It happens to the football captain, the head of the chess team, and the student body government leader.”

Preventing Teen Suicide

Talk about Suicide

It’s important to be direct when talking about teen suicide. If you have concerns, ask your teen outright if she ever thinks about hurting herself. Don’t worry that you’re “putting ideas in their heads,” advises Dr. David Miller, president of the Association of American Suicidology.

“If an adolescent is already suicidal, talking about it, your words, are not going to make them more suicidal than they already are,” Miller says. “If they are not currently suicidal, then talking about it won’t magically make them so.”

Risk Factors for Suicide

Although we sometimes think of teens as impulsive risk-takers, this trait doesn’t necessarily contribute to more teen suicide attempts, according to Miller.

“In the research I’ve seen, people who are suicidal have often thought about this a great deal,” he notes.

Risk factors for suicide include a family history of suicide and mental health disorders, substance abuse, illness, feelings of isolation, and easy access to guns, medications, or other lethal means, according to the CDC.

A “trigger event” such as bullying, a bad grade, or a breakup can also prompt a vulnerable teen to attempt suicide, explains Flatt, who formed the Jason Foundation in his son’s memory. The Tennessee-based organization now has 92 affiliates across the country, serving an estimated four million people.

Know the Teen Suicide Warning Signs

Most adolescents who attempt suicide—four out of five, according to the Jason Foundation—give some type of warning, including:

  • Suicidal ideation or preoccupation with suicide, ranging from fleeting thoughts to detailed plans
  • Statements such as, “I wish I were dead,” or, “No one would miss me if I were gone”
  • Persistent feelings of depression or hopelessness
  • Behavior that is out of character, such as dramatic changes in grades, hygiene, or mood
  • Giving away prized possessions

Have a Plan to Prevent Teen Suicide

Parents know they should take their kids to the emergency room if they have appendicitis, but they often don’t know what to do if their child is depressed. Here’s what experts recommend:

1. Research mental health resources. “Don’t wait until the critical point,” Flatt warns. “If you wait until there’s actually suicidal ideation, you’ve really reached a very dangerous edge.”

2. Maintain an open dialogue with your teen.

3. If your teen seems depressed, don’t ignore it or assume it’s typical teen moodiness.

4. Store guns, prescription medications, and alcohol in safe locations.

5. Encourage your teen to seek adult help if they notice a friend exhibiting suicidal behaviors. “This is not about being a snitch. This is about helping someone and potentially saving someone’s life,” stresses Miller.

Mary Helen Berg is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in Newsweek, The Los Angeles Times, Scary Mommy, and many other publications.

Reprinted with permission by Your Teen Magazine.

Are you struggling with a teen and have exhausted your local resources? Are you concerned that they may be at-risk and considering residential therapy? Contact us today. Since 2001 we’ve been educating parents on the teen help industry and visiting many schools and programs throughout our country.

Tags: ,,,

As Featured On

Help Your Teens DrPhil_Season_7_title_card1-250x139 Home Bottom - Logos Help Your Teens oprah-logo-250x1091 Home Bottom - Logos Help Your Teens PLATFORMforgood Home Bottom - Logos Help Your Teens ParentingTodaysKids Home Bottom - Logos Help Your Teens sunsentinel Home Bottom - Logos Help Your Teens Galtime Home Bottom - Logos Help Your Teens FoxNews1 Home Bottom - Logos Help Your Teens Forbes-Magazine-Logo-Font Home Bottom - Logos Help Your Teens huffington-post-logo Home Bottom - Logos
Help Your Teens family-online-safety-300x112 Home Bottom - Logos Help Your Teens TodayMoms Home Bottom - Logos Help Your Teens usatoday Home Bottom - Logos Help Your Teens washpost Home Bottom - Logos Help Your Teens abcnews Home Bottom - Logos Help Your Teens CNN-living1 Home Bottom - Logos Help Your Teens anderson-cooper-360-logo-250x107 Home Bottom - Logos Help Your Teens cbs_eve_logo Home Bottom - Logos Help Your Teens bostonglobe-250x250 Home Bottom - Logos Help Your Teens nbc6 Home Bottom - Logos Help Your Teens newsweek Home Bottom - Logos

..and many more.

  • Follow @SueScheff

  • RSS Sue Scheff Blog

    • Teen Online Safety Tips October 15, 2021
      As a parent, you want to protect your child from the dangers of the internet. There are countless stories of predators, hackers, and thieves targeting and exploiting young adults. To avoid this, many parents will go as far as to limit or prohibit their child’s use of the internet. However, this solution isn’t practical. The […]
    • Could Instagram Be Damaging Our Teens? September 29, 2021
      Facebook Knew Instagram Could Be Harmful to Our Teens The tech giant has studied how the app affects youth. An article in The Wall Street Journal reports that Facebook’s own documents found Instagram to be damaging to teens. A 2017 survey, published by the U.K.’s Royal Society for Public Health, found Instagram to be “worst […]
    • Helping Your Teen Identify Misinformation Online August 24, 2021
      Teens today have grown up surrounded by technology. Some might argue they were practically born with smartphones in their hands. In some cases, your teenager might even know more about the Internet than you. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t susceptible to getting into trouble online. Because teens feel so comfortable using computers and phones, […]

To get help, CLICK HERE or call us at 954-260-0805
P.U.R.E. does not provide legal advice and does not have an attorney on staff.
^ Back to Top
Copyright © 2001-2021 Help Your Teens. Optimized Web Design by SEO Web Mechanics Site Map