A Parent’s Guide to Teen Depression and Suicide
The statistics on teen suicide are staggering.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, each year, an average of 8% of American teens will attempt suicide. This makes suicide the second leading cause of death for children, adolescents, and young adults aged 10 to 24.
It is believed that more teenagers die from suicide than from cancer, pneumonia, birth defects, AIDS, influenza, and heart disease combined.
Studies have found that teens who have presented with a mood disorder or who abuse drugs are at the greatest risk of attempting suicide.
While research suggests girls attempt suicide more often, boys more often die from it due to using more lethal methods.
Unfortunately, the stigma surrounding depression and suicide remains strong, and so often teens keep their emotional pain to themselves.
What can Parents of teenagers do to keep their children safe and healthy?
Here Are 4 Things You Can Do:
1. Speak with Your Child
Many parents believe that trying to speak with their child about their moods and feelings will only push them farther away. This is a dangerous misconception. The truth is teenagers need to know they are safe, loved and cared for.
Taking time to talk with your son or daughter helps to show them you can see them and that you are wanting to hear and understand them.
You may want to begin your conversation by asking general questions about what’s going on in their life.
-How are things going at school?
-How are things going with friends?
-Is there anything bothering you or causing you to feel stressed or sad?
-Is anyone pressuring you to do something you don’t feel comfortable doing?
-Is there something that’s making you feel uncomfortable, unhappy, or afraid?
These are just a few examples of questions you can ask.
You also want to ask if they have ever had thoughts that they don’t want to live or of self-harm.
If their answer alarms you, ask specifically if they are planning on or intending to harm themselves.
2. Validate Their Feelings
Once you’ve begun this sensitive dialogue with your teen, it’s important to actively listen and validate their feelings. Even when they say something you don’t like or want to have a strong response to. Hold yourself and remain calm, as hard as this may be.
Your child must really believe you are
a) hearing what they’re telling you and
b) recognizing the importance of it.
Listen without judgement.
This will help your child relax and open up. This will give you an opportunity to learn even more about their inner emotional life. The more you know, the better you can understand, and the more you have to work with to help them through.
3. Clarify the Situation
If your teen confides in you that they are having thoughts of suicide, it’s incredibly important that you remain calm and ask questions that will help you clarify the situation. You will want to determine if they are mentioning suicide because they:
- Want to tell you just how bad they are feeling.
- Alert you to something they need but are not getting.
- Need to vocalize their desire to stop feeling so many emotions.
- Have planned how and when they will take their life.
4. Seek Professional Guidance
Any talk of suicide is a serious matter and requires professional guidance by a trained therapist. It’s important not to force your teen into any treatment plan, but instead, allow them to help direct the course of their plan.
Some of their depression might stem from an overall lack of control they feel they have in their own life. In this situation, it’s important you let them have a voice in the direction of treatment.
You may also find that you will want to speak with someone through this difficult time. Parents also need support and positive encouragement.
If you are seeking Therapy options for your teen, please reach out to me. I am here to support you and your family. I offer a free consultation. Let’s discuss things further and find out if I’m the right Therapist for you and your family.