Teenage years are often the most dramatic in a person’s life. While most are able to go through these turbulent 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 is so severe that they begin to contemplate, and even act out suicidal thoughts.
The sad reality is that when a teen starts to act suicidal, many parents only see this as their wanting to get attention. That is until it is too late. Perhaps this could explain why suicide is considered as the third leading cause of death among teenagers and young adults.
“When your children are teenagers, it’s important to have a dog so that someone in the house is happy to see you.” – Nora Ephron
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 things for an extended 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. For example, telling how they would like to be buried or wondering how many people 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 a reckless 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 they could use to harm or kill themselves.
What do I do if my teen is suicidal?
Make face time a priority
One of the best ways to help your teen who may have been contemplating committing suicide for some time is to take some time to each day to talk to them no matter how busy you may be. More often than not, teens begin to contemplate suicide simply because they believe that no one can understand them and that no one cares. Being their parent, you are the best person to show them that someone cares and is genuinely concerned about their welfare.
Be patient with your teen
When taking time out to talk to your teen, don’t expect them to open up to you about their problems immediately. It could take days and even weeks before they finally have the courage to open up to you. Therefore, make sure you show them that you’re patient and that you’re just going to be there when they are ready. Avoid the urge to lecture or pressure them to open up. This will only cause them to shut up even more, making it even harder for you to reach out and help your suicidal teen.
Acknowledge their feelings
You may think that the thing that drove them to suicidal thoughts is incredibly petty. For example, their crush may have fallen in love with one of their friends, or they weren’t invited to the party of the most popular kid in their school. However, don’t try to downplay them by saying that these aren’t serious situations. This will only make them feel worse. Acknowledge and let them see and feel that you genuinely share the pain they are experiencing. Show them that you are someone 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 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. You may even seek the help of a mental health professional to help you save your suicidal teen.