Teen depression can be a very dangerous thing, as it can start and grow quietly, without parents finding out about it. In fact, oftentimes parents are the last to know that their children are dealing with depression. Suicide is one of the serious effects of depression. According to studies, 4 out of 5 teens who attempted suicide showed classic warning signs before they committed the suicidal act.
The truth is that sometimes, it’s easy to miss the signs and just brush them off as “a phase” their teens are going through. It’s important for parents to recognize the warning signs early so as to give your child the help that he/she really needs before it’s too late.
Becoming aware of these signs can help you prevent a tragedy. Here are the most common suicide warning signs for teens:
- Losing interest in favorite activities – If your teenager used to love being a cheerleader but all of a sudden quits and does not offer a satisfactory explanation for it, or if your child suddenly drops a hobby for no apparent reason, it may be an indicator that he/she is depressed and could be suicidal.
- Substance abuse – If you see signs of drug abuse (whether illegal or illegal), or if you catch your child drinking, it’s a red flag that shouldn’t be ignored.
- Withdrawal from some social interaction – Suicidal teens tend to withdraw from some social interaction, although not get completely cut off from all of their friends. If your child suddenly makes excuses not to go to family affairs or interact with family members, or if he suddenly stops having friends over or going over to friends’ houses, it may be a sign of depression as well.
- Neglecting personal hygiene – Suicidal teens seem to just stop caring about how they look and how people see them. If your teen doesn’t usually show carelessness in this area but suddenly loses interest in taking care of his/her appearance, it could be cause for concern.
- Physical complaints – Emotional distress often brings about physical discomfort. Suicidal children often complain about migraines, stomachaches, fatigue, and other physical issues. However, there doesn’t seem to be any physiological sources for the pain.
- Loss of interest in school work – Suicidal teens struggling with caring about school work. Most of them are failing their classes and don’t pay attention while in the classroom.
- Boredom – Depressed teens often complain of boredom. They appear more unmotivated about anything as time goes by and act as if nothing about their life is important.
- Dangerous risk-taking – Teens who act like they have a death wish and engage in dangerous activities may be depressed and suicidal. They may be at a phase where they want to do something daring in order to “feel alive”, or push the limits and get closer to death or hurting themselves.
- Talking/Joking about death – When somebody talks about death and dying, it should be brought to the attention of that person’s parents. While it’s true that the person may just be joking, it doesn’t hurt to err in the side of caution.
The most important thing parents can do when they see suicide warning signs in their teens are to provide support to them. Suicidal teenagers generally have lost hope in life and feel as if what they are going through is insurmountable. If their parents show that they will be with them no matter what happens and they will help them find hope again, it will be a significant help in preventing suicide.
As a parent if you notice any warnings signs it’s crucial to find out what underlying problems are causing your teen’s depression. Seeing a therapist can help you with short and long term solution to help your teen out of this very difficult situation. Let your teen know that having suicidal thoughts in a serious issue and that there are many outlets for help outside of parental figures.
Sometimes it helps to just talk to people who really listen and who will not judge you or give you bad advice. Suicidal hotlines in the US have helps many individuals get the assistance that they need.
If your teen is suicidal, here are a few good reasons why they need to seek or reach out for help:
- They need other people – It’s hard to admit this sometimes, but people are not self-sufficient. Your teen needs to talk to somebody. Even talking with somebody over the phone can help your teen significantly with their suicidal thoughts.
- Change of perspective – Even if part of your mind is already set on the negative aspects of your life, talking to somebody can change your perspective, even temporarily.
- Relief – People who contemplate suicide often have a lot of bottled up emotions. Sometimes, talking to a stranger can be a temporary means of opening up your heart without fear of judgment or rejection. It’s like being given a reprieve and temporary relief from the whirlwind of emotions that you are feeling at the moment.
People who are behind teen suicide hotlines and support are often volunteers who just want to help. Having a brush with suicide or depression changes the lives of people. Many of these volunteers have different experiences with suicide and/or depression. They can provide a fresh perspective about why there are other options to consider.
Sometimes, volunteers are also people who are studying to become therapists, doctors, or other fields. While the people who will be on the other end of the line can come from different backgrounds; one thing is certain, their goal is to help a person realize that suicide is never the answer to your problems. Volunteers of teen suicide hotlines and support can also help with finding a therapist or counselor in your area. It’s a good first baby step (or first baby steps) in the right direction.