Warning signs of teen suicide
Erika Feldpausch is a behavioral-health therapist on staff at Banner Thunderbird Medical Center. Her office can be reached at (602) 865-4706.
Question: Few things are as sad as teen suicide. What are the warning signs of suicidal thoughts in teens and what should I do as a parent if I recognize these warning signs in my son or daughter?
Answer: Suicide is always tragic, especially in teenagers who have their entire lives ahead of them, yet teen suicide is on the rise in the United States. Suicide is the third-leading cause of death in American teens, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, even though suicide represents a real problem, it is also preventable.
Parents can help prevent suicide in their children by being actively engaged in their children's lives, recognizing the warning signs of suicidal thoughts, and seeking immediate professional help.
Teens who consider suicide as a solution to their problems often feel unloved, excluded from their peer group, or out of place within their families. They begin to feel trapped and hopeless, as though nothing they do will improve their circumstances.
Warning signs include depression, disturbed sleeping patterns, self-hating thoughts, withdrawing from family and friends, rage, irritability, substance abuse, statements of being a burden to others, risk-taking behavior, a "nothing matters" mentality, giving away valuable items and sudden mood changes, among others.
If you recognize or suspect suicidal thoughts in your child, remember that he/she is already suffering.
If you suspect suicide is imminent, immediately bring your child to the emergency department where he/she can receive an evaluation by a mental-health professional.