Are you worried about teen suicide?

Are you worried that your teen might be suicidal? Learn about the warning signs and how to act if your child is in trouble.

What to look out for:

  • Changes in mood and behaviour:
  • Becoming withdrawn and non-communicative
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
  • Changes in appetite
  • Changes / problems with sleep (not enough or too much)
  • Outbursts of anger or a short-fuse and irritability
  • Drop / major changes in academic performance
  • Distancing from friends and family
  • Tearfulness and easily distressed

What to do:

  • Try to speak with the young person about what is bothering them if they will communicate with you
  • Get help as soon as possible
  • Speak to your family doctor who may want to see the young person especially if they know them well and have a good relationship with them.  They can also refer you on to mental health services that specialise in adolescent mental health such as a Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist and /or Psychologist/Psychotherapist
  • Act, don’t ignore the problem or see it as unnecessary attention-seeking
  • Always take suicidal ideation seriously
  • Don’t become angry or irritated with the young person
  • Remain as calm as you can in such a worrying situation, and provide a calm, safe contained environment
  • If you are sufficiently concerned that the young person may do something impulsive make sure that all tablets/medications in the home are locked away to prevent an overdose attempt (something that should always be done anyway).

 Information for teenagers who are worried about feeling suicidal 

  • If you are feeling very down and you find yourself having suicidal thoughts it is important for you to speak to someone and not feel trapped and alone by your thoughts and your feelings.  Depression and the thinking that goes along with it is very “one track” and it can make us feel that it is not possible to feel better about things.
  • Seek out an adult you can talk to.  Either your parents or someone else you trust and let them know how you are feeling.  They will be able to help you stop and think about solutions to how you are feeling and also getting you some help to talk things through.
  • Remember that there are always many options to resolving a problem, and no matter how bad you are feeling, those feelings will pass and improve, especially if you speak about them.
  • If you have one, a school counsellor is a good place to start in getting help.  They will know how to support you and help you access services that will help you work out solutions to the way you are feeling.
  • Another good source of support is childline and you can call them at any time for free on 0800 055 555
  • You are not alone help and support is out there – suicide is permanent and, even though they may feel that way, the problems that make you feel suicidal are not.

(Dr Neil McGibbon, Health24’s Teen Expert, February 2011)

If you have any questions, write to the Teen Expert

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