Suicide is the second leading cause of death among people age 15 to 24 in the United States. Nearly 20% of high school students report serious thoughts of suicide and 9% have made an attempt to take their lives, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the month that ended March 20,2021, the mean weekly emergency department visits for suspected suicide attempts rose 50.6% among 12 to 17 year-old girls.
What’s going on? Is it one event that causes the suicide ideation or the pandemic or the influence of social media that is causing this uptick in the suicide rate? According to mental health professionals, what increases a teen’s risk of suicide is self-harm behaviors, mental health issues, family history of suicide and especially a history of past suicidal behaviors. Depression, combined with poor impulse control, substance abuse or aggressive behavior.
How Parents Can Help!
As a parent, what can you do if your child says “I’d rather be dead!” “I’m going to kill myself?” Don’t respond with panic, disappointment or dismissiveness, but do take their outbursts seriously. Here’s what you can do:
- Offer your help. Discuss with them alternative ways to deal with their problems.
- Refer them to a mental health professional to alleviate the depression.
- Childproof your home. Don’t leave sharp knives, guns or prescription pills at the ready.
- Have these numbers handy:
- In U.S. call or text 988 to reach 988 Suicide and Crisis lifeline. It’s available 24 hrs./day, 7 days/week.
- Use the lifeline chat at 988lifeline.org/chat/. Services are free and confidential.
- Call 911 in the United States or your local emergency number immediately.
Signs and Causes of Suicidal Thoughts
- Talking about suicide.
- Getting the means to take your own life.
- Withdrawing from social contact and wanting to be alone.
- Having mood swings.
- Being preoccupied with death, dying or violence.
- Feeling trapped or hopeless about a situation.
- Increasing use of alcohol or drugs.
- Changing eating/sleeping patterns.
- Doing risky or self-destructive things such as using drugs or driving recklessly.
- Giving away belongings or getting affairs in order when there is no other logical explanation for doing this.
- Saying goodbye to people as if they won’t be seen again.
- Developing personality changes or being severely anxious or agitated, particularly when experiencing some of the warning signs listed above.
Source: Mayo Clinic
Wesley Cullen Davidson
Wesley Cullen Davidson is an award-winning freelance writer and journalist specializing in parenting. Currently, she is targeting her writing about recovery to parents whose children have substance abuse disorders.
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