Risk factors for teen & young adult suicide.
Suicide prevention begins with parental awareness of risk factors in your teen or young adult. By knowing these risk factors, parents can recognize if their child or teen needs extra supervision, support, & more chances to talk:
- Deliberate but non-suicidal self-harm, such as cutting – puts kids at higher risk for suicide.
- Ongoing family conflicts – abuse, violence, lack of family connectedness, & parents’ mental health problems.
- Suicide by one family member – increases the risk of suicide among others in the family.
- Any major loss – such as death of a loved one.
- LGBTQ teens who experienced negative reactions or rejection to the “coming out” process.
- Children & teens who are depressed are at a higher risk of suicide.
- Children who are bullied – and those who bully others – are at higher risk of suicidal thoughts and actions. This is true for face-to-face & online cyberbullying.
- Substance use – a factor in 30% of youth suicides.
- Drugs & alcohol abuse can bring on a substance-induced psychotic episode.
- Teens with mood disorders, eating disorders & other psychiatric conditions have increased risk of suicide.
- Adolescents who tend to get severely angry & have a history of aggressive, impulsive behavior have much higher risk of suicide.
- Easy access to guns & other lethal methods – risk factor for suicide. Firearms are the top cause of death for teens age 15-19 who commit suicide.
- A previous suicide attempt – is strongly tied to a future suicide. Suicide prevention is imperative.
How parents can help to prevent suicide.
Parents play a vital role in their child’s mental health. Their personal involvement with their troubled teen is crucial for suicide prevention.
- Listen – even when your teen is not talking. Most kids who are thinking about suicide (suicidal ideation) tip off their troubled state of mind through troubled behaviors & actions.
- Don’t let your teen’s depression or anxiety snowball. Get help early.
- Maybe your child is having a bad day, or maybe it’s something more. Be worried if this new bad mood has persisted for a couple of weeks.
- 9 in 10 teens who take their own lives met criteria for a diagnosis of psychiatric or mental health condition or disorder. More than half of them have a mood disorder such as depression or anxiety. Are your teens with mental health or mood disorders being treated? Are they getting better? Suicide prevention rests with your involvement in their care.
- There are usually three or more issues going on in a teen’s life before they try to commit suicide:
- major loss (i.e., break up or death),
- substance use,
- peer or social pressure,
- access to weapons,
- public humiliation,
- severe chronic pain,
- chronic medical condition,
- family history of suicide.
How to handle threats of suicide.
Never shrug off threats of suicide as typical teenage melodrama.
Suicide prevention begins with your willingness to get help if you hear them say:
“I wonder how many people would come to my funeral?”
“Sometimes I wish I could just go to sleep & never wake up.”
“Everyone would be better off without me.”
“You won’t have to worry about me much longer,”
When a teenager starts dropping comments like the ones above, be willing to listen nonjudgmentally to what he or she is really saying.
Call the suicide hot-line and seek professional help right away!