Suicidal tendency in your teen: Before we jump into this topic. I would wish to say few things to you as readers.
I first appreciate that the very fact that you are reading this blog means that you have taken the first step to help your child in combatting the issue.
As parents you need to understand that this suicidal tendency in your teen is not something that you are facing alone in this world.
The very fact that I and so does many blogger colleagues of mine have written on this topic. Only proves that this is a problem that is faced by many many parents out there.
There is nothing to feel guilty or a failure as a parent because you are facing a challenge like this.
While many studies are shown that the number of cases of suicide are increasing. But I also believe that there are much much more children who have gone down this path and have overcome and grown to be successful adults.
Take heart, cheer, and read on.
- Epidemiology of suicide in adolescents
- Causes of teenage suicide:
- Warning – Signs to look out for – Suicidal tendency in your teen
- What can parents do?
- Conclusion & Note to Parents
No two teens are alike. While no teenager is immune from having suicidal tendency. There are factors that can make some more vulnerable than others.
But as parents it is wise for us to know the issues faced by teens and be equipped with the issue’s teenagers face. And learn to spot suicidal tendency in your teen.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15-24-year old, after traffic accidents.
In the early teens, thinking is more like that of a younger child’s, which is, very concrete and with a focus on the here and now.
The teen can be very categorical, either right or wrong.
Is your teenager at risk of suicide? How to find out suicidal tendency in your teen.
Learn to realize if your child may be suicidal and where to go for help and treatment.
Epidemiology of suicide in adolescents
As per Wikipedia: “An estimated 1 million people worldwide die by suicide every year. It is estimated that global annual suicide fatalities could rise to over 1.5 million by 2020.
Also, suicide is one of the top-ranking factors for causes of death among people aged between15 to 44 years globally.
Also, it is said that frequency of suicide attempts is up to 20 times more than that of completed ones.”
WHO reports mention suicide as the second cause of death in adolescents and young adults?
Young adults from the age of 10 to 24 years of age, which is the age group considered by the WHO.
They report that adolescents are at greater suicide risk than other populations at the level.
And that suicide attempts are more frequent than completed suicide.
Every year around 900,000 suicides are registered in the population, of these, 200,000 occur in the pediatric, adolescent, and young adult populations.
Likewise, it is reported that suicide as a cause of death and the method used, vary according to the culture of each country.
Causes of teenage suicide:
Many teens that attempt suicide or commit suicide have a mental health condition.
Therefore, they have difficulty dealing with the stress of being teenagers, such as facing rejection, failure, separations, and family crises.
You may also like to read our article on related teen issues of anxiety How-To SPOT & DEAL with Teenage Anxiety Issues.
They also may not be able to see that their lives can change, and that suicide is a permanent response to a temporary problem, and not a solution.
There are lots of causes of suicide in teenagers, as per my reading and understanding below are the common ones:
Adolescence is a period of tormented life, characterized by a series of hormonal changes and major upheavals which can lead the youngster to isolation and estrangement from those close to him.
This stage is often punctuated by moments of depression, especially if the adolescent is deprived of support and listening.
Harmones are also one of the reason for mood swings in teenagers. to know more on how to help you teenager with their How-To Help & Deal with a teenager mood swings. Our article mood swings can give you some pointers.
Already, this transitional period towards the adult world is becoming a breeding ground for suicidal thoughts.
If, this is coupled with other non-negligible problems, suicide is then a possible solution for the young person.
One of the primary causes of suicide among young people is depression. to know more about depression you must read our article How-to find out if your teenager is battling depression?.
Symptoms are the same as for adults.
But when it comes to teenagers. Parents often tend to confuse the symptoms to that of normal “teenage crisis” behaviors.
The chemical instability of the brain causes a general loss of interest in life.
Other destabilizing situations can also be observed as a reason for a teenager to choose suicide as an option.
It can when he experiences family difficulties, such as parental violence, constant tension, and arguments between parents, bullying from siblings, or sexual assault.
Bullying in schools
Bullying in schools and cyber bullying are increasingly common serious phenomena.
Young people who are targeted suffer more from depression and isolation.
They are afraid to talk about this harassment and to confide their misfortune to others, for fear of being subjected to more mistreatment.
This phenomenon inevitably leads to dropping out of school.
Some victims may get sick, have trouble sleeping, and show signs of depression.
Several children will take another route to school; others will no longer show up for class.
This violence in an educational environment often leads to suicide.
Most recently, several young people, especially girls, committed suicide because of bullying.
School authorities say they are taking the necessary steps to put in place support and monitoring programs, but the problem remains deep and difficult to control.
I also feel that if a teen develops good self-confidence it will help the teenager to combat bullying effectively. To know ways to develop self-confidence in your teenager or article How to develop self-confidence in your teenager can give you some pointers.
Other causes of youth suicide
Brutal divorce, deficient step families, heartache and bullying also cause suicide among young people.
Alcoholism and drug addiction reigning at the heart of the family home. If you like to know more on the topics of drug addiction in teens and how to spot them you must read our article How-To find out if your teenager is using drugs.
Lack of love and indifference as to what the young adult experiences also can leas to stress in a young adult and can lead the young person to suicide intentions.
Sometimes pure expectation and peer pressures can be a leading reason for stress in our young children.
Especially when children compare material things of what their families can afford to what their friend’s families can effort.
Of late I do read a lot of cases where children take such decisions only because they feel that their parents could not afford the lifestyle or the gadgets which they friends’ families can afford.
A recent case of a schoolgirl. Given the COVID situation this young girl who took out her own life only because her parents could not afford her a gadget that she could use to attend online classes.
Toxic friendship can also be one the reasons. Peer pressures needs to be handled effectively by our teen. To know about this and what to teach them read our article 5 Effective ways to deal with Peer Pressure.
Warning – Signs to look out for – Suicidal tendency in your teen
If you see significant behavioral changes in your teenager, you have reason to be worried.
Here are some examples of alarm signals that can point to suicidal tendency in your teen.
- Your child stands out and loses interest in activities they previously enjoyed.
- Your teenager gets withdrawn and prefers loneliness.
- The teenager keeps off from their friends and avoids any discussion with their family members.
- He neglects his physical appearance and displays a lack of personal hygiene.
- He lacks focus on his schoolwork and his results are down.
- His sleeping habits are no longer the same and he changes his diet to lose weight (anorexia or bulimia).
- Teen with suicidal tendency can resort to uses of drugs and alcohol.
- The teen become irascible and angry and shows violence.
- They start becoming serious and no longer seems to laugh and no longer had shown interest in what fascinated him before.
- The contexts of mourning, painful loss, sentimental breakdown.
- Repetitions and intensification of physical complaints (stomach aches, headaches, etc.).
- Disinterested in school, its activities, and studies, weakening of the results, even school absenteeism.
- Behaviors of self-sabotage, self-loath and running away tendency.
- Attitudes of systematic opposition, provocation.
- Aggressive behavior with threats and brutality, small criminal acts. The fear and feeling of powerlessness can often turn into aggressiveness towards the surroundings.
- They can project their feeling of hurt on other loving things. For example, starting to torment animals.
- Seeking out information of death and after life.
- Glorifying death and praising stories of people who committed suicide or attempted it. Taking about suicide and writing or drawing about it. Seriously or jokingly.
- Being cynical of life and everything living. Talk as if hope is void.
- Has low self-esteem. Feels unloved or undesired. Believes that no one cares for them.
- Giving away things that they once loved. Could be their prized iPod or their favorite shoes.
Do not isolate yourself. Once it is discovered that your teen is in difficulty, it is important to seek help from trusted family members or acquaintances.
If you are concerned or suspicious, seek information from the peer group or from the parents of the peer group.
What can parents do?
Based on my experience, and what I have read and gathered.
Many teenagers who achieve or attempt suicide give warning to loved ones beforehand.
Therefore, it is important for parents to know the warning signs so you can spot suicidal tendency in your teen and can get the help they need.
Spend time with your teenage:
Create time and space to spend time with each other.
It is important to socialize with each other and be available when the young person wants to talk even if it is in the middle of the night.
Take your child’s emotions seriously. Listen and talk without judging. Building a emotional connection with your teenager is crucial. To know how to do so get information from our article How-To Easily build Emotional Connection with your Teenager.
Do things together that young people enjoy.
Show that you like your child no matter what has happened.
Note: The thoughts about suicide can change if the young person is given the opportunity to talk about them.
Seek out to educate yourself. Have resources and numbers available and handy.
Speak out your issues with closed family members with vested interest on your child.
Get the understanding and experience that you will need with while you deal with suicidal tendency in your teenager.
The young person needs active help from important people in his environment to get out of his suicidal thoughts.
Who more can be of immediate assistance than you as a parent?
The more you educate yourself the better you will be able to handle the crises at the 1st level.
Watch and listen
It is important to try to keep communication open and express your concern, support, and love. So that you understand the environment your teen is operating in.
If your teen trusts you, show them that you take these concerns seriously.
A fight with a friend may not seem important to you in a larger context, but for a teenager it can be intense and overwhelming.
It is important not to minimize or discount what your teen is facing, as this could increase their feeling of hopelessness.
If your teen is not comfortable talking to you, suggest a more neutral person like another relative, a member of the clergy, a coach, a counselor at school, or your teen’s doctor.
Note: Sometimes just listening and caring. Being nonjudgmental. Gives your teen all the support and understanding that is needed.
Pay attention to changes
Pay attention to sudden and drastic changes.
If your gut feeling is saying something is not right. Usually if you feel so it is best to stop and explore further and put your doubts to rest.
Often when you try to enquire you get an avoidant response at first or that “everything is good”. Do not stop there.
Do express by pointing out that you have seen something that worries you and makes you think that it is not right.
Mood swings and occasional anger outburst is common in teenagers. if your teenager is acting out and you like to know how to face and deal with the outbursts get insights from our article How to effectively deal with Teenager Anger
Also, Do it in a nonjudgmental way to help your child open.
Some parents prefer not to ask teens if they have planned to commit suicide or hurt themselves.
Some fear that by asking, they will plant the idea of suicide in their teens’ thoughts.
It is always a good idea to ask, even if it is difficult. Use the word “suicide” and if you are worried ask directly if they are contemplating suicide or have a plan for attempting suicide.
Sometimes it helps to explain why you ask.
Note: Remember that talking about suicide does not induce or give and idea or make a teen commit suicide. But on the contrary Not talking about suicide.
Or avoiding bringing up this delicate subject.
Or not addressing the underlying issues that your teen is going through. Has more probability of suicidal tendency in your teen.
If you find out that your child is thinking about suicide, get help immediately.
Your doctor may recommend a psychologist or psychiatrist, or the psychiatry department of your local hospital can provide you with a list of doctors in your area.
If you are sure that your team is attempting suicide. It is better to rush to the nearest hospital and have your child admitted. So that you have extra pair of eyes to watch over your teen. Till the time, the required help for your teenager can be got.
Help teen to cope
When someone tries to commit suicide and survives, certain people may fear or feel uncomfortable talking to them about it.
Tell your teen to resist this feeling; this is a time when a person needs to feel attached to others. Your attention, love and affection are what is needed at this time.
Do not judge, whine, cry, or stress them over. Do not alienate your child for the act or punish them.
Help them to cope us with their feeling. It is recommended that you do it with additional help and not all alone.
In the face of a student’s suicide, many schools bring special counselors to speak to students and help them cope.
If your teen is facing suicide from a friend or classmate, Talk to your teen about it. Encourage them to open and talk to you or another trusted adult. To help them cope with the loss.
In general one of the best life skill that I feel we as parents should teach our children is to help them to face life challenges in a positive attitude.
Our article How to Prepare your Teenager Face Challenges in Life can guide you on this
When my 2nd son’s classmate attempted suicide. My son had tons of questions and it was very evident to me that this was the main topic that many in their class spoke.
It was also very alarming to me on the thought process and opinions the kids were coming up with on the incident.
It was also the time when the blue whale game was going on. (though that was not the reason).
Note: So, parent to parent. When you get to know something like this has happened in your teen’s environment.
Be of extra alert and try to bring the topic out in the open and have frank discussions with your teen to demystify it.
If you have this nagging feeling or hunch that there might be suicidal tendency in your teen. Then it is wise to keep all sharp objects at bay.
Weapons and guns, should you have in your possession be removed. Doors leading to terrace and balconies secured and locked.
Lock up pills and be aware of knives and other common and poisonous items in the house.
Secure anything such as ropes and sheets. And anything else you may feel might be means to commit suicide.
Conclusion & Note to Parents
Prevention is always better than cure. So, with awareness, open lines of communication help a lot in preventing an occurrence.
However, if you still feel suicidal tendency in your teen.
While it will be horrifying. The best resort that we have as parents is to accept an acknowledge the situation.
Acknowledge that we have a problem at hand. And it is our children who are involved in it and we cannot disown them. And we would do everything in a power to help them overcome it.
Once you have acknowledged the issue at hand the next steps that we can do logically is seek and ask for help and guidance.
Help and guidance not necessary means only for your child who is displaying suicidal tendency. But it is also needed for the rest of the family members also.
Right from grandparents, siblings (so that they do not follow the same path) and of course your spouse and yourself.
Getting more aware of the situation. Joining in support groups along with parents who are in similar situation as yourself.
Gives you strength that you are not battling the problem alone.
It might also give you the strength to carry on and some encouragement that there is always light in the end of the tunnel.
However, I am a mother growing 3 kids. Two of which are well into their teenage years.
I have lost a school friend to this. When my 2nd son’s friend got admitted for a suicide attempt. It got me introspect and read a lot on this topic.
I am a very concerned parent.
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