As a parent or caregiver, it’s important to recognize the indicators your child may be suicidal. Suicide among adolescents is a growing public health concern, and it’s crucial to learn the warning signs of suicide in preteens, young adults, and adolescents so that you can provide the necessary aid and support.
Most do not wish to discuss it. Suicide among adolescents is on the rise, a topic that no parent likes to consider. In 2019, over nine percent of high school students attempted suicide, and 18.8 percent said they had suicidal thoughts, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This proportion was greatest among women (11.0%), black adolescents (11.8%), and LGBTQ adolescents (23.4%). Every 2 hours and 11 minutes, someone under 25 completes a suicide attempt and dies by suicide; among teenagers aged 14 to 18, it is the second leading cause of death.
Certainly, these figures are sobering. Thousands of preteens, teenagers, and young adults feel (or have felt) so depressed and despondent that they believe there is no way out. There is no escape. Suicide prevention is achievable, although the problem may appear insurmountable, and we frequently feel helpless in the face of it.
A study shows the importance of restricting access to firearms and other lethal tools. The manner in which suicide is discussed in the media can be either helpful or destructive, a phenomenon known as the contagion effect. And knowing the warning symptoms of suicide is a vital method to prevent suicide.
Before suicide conduct may be prevented, it is necessary to identify those at risk, according to the aforementioned study. “Because not all possible suicide attempters are in close touch with a mental health professional, individuals around them (e.g., friends, family, school staff, military leaders, and primary caregivers) should be trained with the right tools to recognize risk and make a timely referral.”
But what are the warning indications of suicide among adolescents, preteens, and young adults? While asking is the best method to determine if someone is suicidal, parents, teachers, and other caregivers should also be aware of the following warning signs.
Signs of Suicide in Children, Adolescents, and Teens
- Discussing wanting to die and/or wanting to commit suicide.
- Referring to feelings of emptiness, hopelessness, and/or having no purpose for existing.
- Discussing feeling confined or as though there are no solutions.
- Being concerned with death, whether in discussion, art, or music.
- alterations in eating and/or sleeping patterns
- Removing oneself from family and friends.
- Donating personal belongings.
- Leaving relatives and friends behind.
- Particularly in actions that could result in death, such as drinking, drug use, and/or driving exceedingly fast.
- Dropping grades.
- Donating precious items.
- Enhanced substance usage and abuse.
- Extreme mood swings.
According to the Child Mind Institute, additional risk factors include a history of suicide in the family, bullying, poverty, intergenerational trauma, and/or a recent death or loss. Living with a mental health problem or battling substance use and misuse can also contribute.
The Institute explains, “Many circumstances may make a young person more or less prone to ponder or try suicide.” In other words, suicide can affect anyone, at any age or moment, regardless of appearance.
If your child demonstrates any of the above warning signals, you should have a conversation with them about suicide. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention notes, “Asking your child directly about suicide does not increase their risk or plant the concept.” It will provide an opportunity to offer assistance and demonstrate your concern by initiating the dialogue.
Previously, Alicia Raimundo, a mental health advocate and business analyst at The Foundry, an online health and wellness resource for adolescents and young people aged 12 to 24, advised parents to ask their child directly about suicide.
“Answer their queries without guilt, judgment, or fear… Validate their emotions by responding, “That must be difficult” or “It sounds like you’re dealing with a great deal.” If they are having suicidal thoughts, suggest persons or places they can turn to.” And if you fear they may try suicide, get them to help immediately. Thoughts of suicide should always be handled seriously.