The teen years are often the most dramatic in a person’s life. While most are able to go through these stormy years, many teens eventually develop severe types of depression brought about by peer pressure, poor self-image and other challenges that come along their way. In many cases, the depression experienced by teenagers are so severe that they begin to contemplate, and even act out, suicidal thoughts.
The sad reality is that when a teen begins to act suicidal, many parents only see this as their wanting to get attention. That is, until it is too late. This perhaps could explain why suicide is considered as the third leading cause of death among teenagers and young adults.
How can I tell if my teen is suicidal?
Teenagers are very expressive when it comes to what they feel. If you notice your teen has been doing any of the following for a long period of time, you should take it as a warning sign that your teen might be suicidal:
- Making comments, jokingly or otherwise, about committing suicide
- Frequent use of expressions like “I’d be better off dead,” “I wish I could disappear forever,” “there’s no way out,” or something similar
- Fantasizing and even romanticizing about death (eg. telling how they would like to be buried, wondering how many will attend their funeral)
- Writing stories and poems, sketching or painting images that deals with death, dying, and suicide
- Giving away prized possessions
- Engaging in wreckless behavior
- Refusing any type of medical treatment or attention when they are injured or not feeling well
- Saying goodbye to friends and family as if for the last time
- Keeping weapons like knives, pills or any other material that could be used to harm or kill themselves
What to do if my teen is suicidal?
Make face time a priority
One of the best ways that you can help your teen who may have been contemplating on committing suicide for some time is to take some time to each day to talk to your teen, no matter how busy you may be. More often than not, teens begin to contemplate about committing suicide simply because they believe that no one will be able to understand them and no one cares. Being their parent, you are the best person to show them that someone does care and is genuinely concerned about their welfare.
Be patient with your teen
When taking time out to talk to your teen, don’t expect that they will open up to you about their problems immediately. It could take days and even weeks before they would be able to finally have the courage to open up with you. So make sure to show them that you’re patient and that you’re just going to be there when they are ready. Avoid the urge of lecturing or pressuring them to open up. This will only cause them to shut down even more, making it even harder for you to reach out and help your suicidal teen.
Acknowledge their feelings
Even though you may think that the thing that drove them to commit suicide is extremely a petty situation (eg. their crush fell in love for one of their friends or they weren’t invited to the party of the most popular kid in their school), don’t try in any way to downplay them by saying that these aren’t so bad a situation. This will only make them feel worse. Acknoweldge and let them see and feel that you genuinely share their pain they are experiencing and that you are someone that they can trust and turn to for support and counsel.
Go with your gut feeling
At times like this, tuning to your parental instincts may literally mean life or death for your teen. This is especially important if your teen refuses to open up after several attempts on your part to reach out. Try talking to their friends or their teachers or even seek the help of a mental health professional to help you save your suicidal teen.