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Know the Risk Factors, Warning Signs of Suicide in Teens

Warning signs of suicide in teens

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that suicide is the second leading cause of death for teens and young adults ages 10-24. While there is no single cause of suicide, the stress a child or teen feels from his/her social environment, emotional pressures and family-related issues can contribute to the risk of suicide attempts. Therefore, openly discussing feelings with a loved one and understanding the issues related to suicide is a vital part of prevention, helping in a crisis and creating a safety plan for healing.

Risk Factors for Suicide

  • Family history of suicide
  • Exposure to traumatic experiences like family violence or physical and/or sexual abuse
  • Family history of mental illness, depression, alcohol and/or drug abuse
  • Chronic pain and certain medical conditions

Warning Signs of Suicide in Teens

  • Talking about suicide, wanting to kill themselves or die
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Increase in feelings of anxiousness, anger or rage
  • Extreme mood changes
  • Increased alcohol and/or drug abuse
  • Disinterest and withdrawn from family, friends and/or activities
  • Changes in sleeping and/or eating habits
  • Feeling trapped or in unbearable pain

Steps for Creating a Safety Plan

  1. Understand the warning signs of suicide. Staying involved with your child or teen’s life will help you determine if a serious problem arises.
  2. Respond and engage. It is a myth that talking to a child or teen about suicide makes them more likely to pursue it. Research shows that talking openly creates a safe environment to express feelings and thoughts that might have been kept secret, which leads to intervention. Therefore, ask your teen or youth if they are having thoughts of suicide. Listen without judgment and make them feel heard and understood. Guide them to professional help to start the healing.
  3. Contact mental health professionals. Know where the resources in your community are located and what services they offer. Learn about KVC Hospitals’ locations and acute/inpatient and residential psychiatric treatment services and put crisis phone numbers on your phone. Our crisis phone number is 1-866-KVC-CARES and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline phone number is 1-800-273-8255.
  4. Develop a supportive community. Make a list of friends and family who can listen openly to the issues and stresses your child or teen may be facing. They will be able to help in times of crisis.

Individually, these behaviors may not indicate depression or risk of suicide, so it is important to watch for two or more signs which may indicate a serious issue. If you notice warning signs, seek professional help as soon as possible by contacting our psychiatric hospitals at 1-866-KVC-CARES (582-2273), or contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

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