Suicide is the third leading cause of death in young people ages 15 to 24. There is no single cause for suicide, and although it can be common to some degree for teenagers to think about death, suicidal thoughts should be taken seriously.
Depression is the most common condition associated with suicide and it is often undiagnosed or untreated. Since 2020 depression and anxiety has doubled among adolescents. Experts are pointing to the overuse of screen-time as part of the cause.
In addition to depression and anxiety, substance use (especially if unaddressed) can increase the risk for suicidal thoughts and possible suicide.
A red flag that your teen is having suicidal thoughts is a change in behavior or the presence of entirely new behaviors. It may be related to a painful event, loss, or change. Never underestimate the impact of their online lives — if they have become a victim of cyberbullying, exploitation or humiliation they feel that is unbearable to face.
3 Ways to Help Your Teen Deal with Suicidal Thoughts
1. Stay calm. It’s important for you not to let them feel ashamed of their feelings and not to be judgmental. Focus on your concern for their well-being and avoid being accusatory. Reassure them that there is help and they will not feel like this forever. Listening is your job right now.
2. Supervision and safety. Remove any items that your teen could use to self-harm themselves with, including checking your medicine cabinets for cough syrups, old prescriptions and even lighters or knives they may have. Be sure someone is always with your teen until you have them stabilized, they shouldn’t be left alone.
3. Get professional help immediately. Be proactive in finding an adolescent therapist as soon as possible. Having suicidal thoughts should not be taken light. Be sure your teen always has the hotlines available. Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK or the Crisis Text Line (text “HOME” to 741741).
If you have exhausted your local resources, your teen is not willing to attend therapy, is now refusing to go to school, a short-term hospital stay was unsuccessful, it may be time to consider a therapeutic boarding school.
Contact us for a free consultation to learn the benefit of these programs for young people struggling with depression and other behavioral issues.