The teenage years are rife with academic challenges, emotional upheaval, and developmental changes. The pressure of transitioning from childhood to adulthood can become overwhelming. Unfortunately, suicidal ideation accompanies some adolescents on this journey. At The Forum, we aim to deepen understanding around this topic, provide clarity on its complexities, and offer guidance on how to identify and help at-risk children.
Teen Suicide Statistics
The reality surrounding teen suicide should be a wake-up call to all American adults. Here are a few figures from the CDC:
- Suicide ranks as the third leading cause of death for young adults between ages 15 and 19.
- While boys are four times more likely to die from suicide than girls, girls tend to attempt suicide more frequently than boys.
- Over half of youth suicides involve guns.
Why Might a Teen Consider Suicide?
The ups and downs of adolescence may seem insurmountable to teenagers, making suicide seem like a tragically misguided solution. To approach this topic with the empathy it deserves, let’s explore the root causes of such a tragic decision.
- Developmental changes: Significant physical, cognitive, and emotional upheaval characterize adolescence. The transition can sometimes lead to feelings of stress, confusion, self-doubt, and a palpable pressure to succeed.
- Life changes: Events such as divorce, changing schools, shifts in friendships, academic struggles, or experiencing significant losses can further compound the turmoil.
Identifying At-Risk Teens: Factors to Consider
Some teenagers may have a heightened suicide risk due to various factors:
- Mental health disorders, including substance abuse.
- Impulsive behavior patterns.
- Experiencing traumatic life events such as a loved one’s death.
- A family history of mental illness, substance use, or suicide.
- Experiencing familial violence – be it physical, sexual, or emotional.
- A previous suicide attempt.
- Access to guns at home.
- Exposure to suicidal behaviors, whether through personal connections, media, or literature.
Know the Warning Signs
Recognizing the signs of potential suicidal ideation can be lifesaving. Many symptoms overlap with those of depression:
- Altered eating and sleeping patterns.
- Diminished interest in previously enjoyable activities.
- Increasing isolation from family and friends.
- Engaging in risky behaviors.
- Drug or alcohol abuse.
- Decline in personal hygiene and appearance.
- Preoccupation with topics of death or dying.
- Physical complaints linked to emotional distress.
- Academic disinterest or struggles.
- Explicit expressions or hints of suicidal intentions.
Immediately contact your family doctor if you notice any of these red flags – especially if they appear suddenly or intensify over time.
Seek Help With Adolescent Psychotherapy
It is crucial to take every sign seriously if you suspect a teen is struggling with suicidal ideation. Address the issue directly, provide unwavering support, and connect them with professional resources.
The Forum stands committed to supporting teens and their families throughout adolescence with comprehensive psychiatric evaluations, medication management, and diagnostic services for teenagers between the ages of 12 and 17. Knowledge, understanding, and timely intervention can save lives. If you have concerns or need guidance, please reach out to our team today.