Recognizing Signs of Suicide in Teens: A Guide for Parents and Caregivers
Suicide is a serious and heartbreaking issue that affects people of all ages, including teenagers. It’s essential for parents, caregivers, and friends to be aware of the signs that a teen may be struggling with suicidal thoughts. At Authentic Connections Counseling Center (AC3) in Castle Rock, we are here to discuss some signs to look out for and what to do if you suspect a teenager may be at risk.
Why Teens May Experience Suicidal Thoughts:
Before we dive into the signs, it’s important to understand why some teens may have thoughts of suicide. Teens can face a lot of stress and pressure, from school and social issues to family problems. Sometimes, these feelings become overwhelming, and they may not know how to cope. At Authentic Connections Counseling Center we have trained therapists that can provide the tools for teens that might be struggling with suicidal ideations. Among other signs, you can also look out for these listed below.
Recognizing the Signs:
Talking About Suicide: If a teenager talks about suicide or expresses a desire to die, even if it seems like a casual comment, take it seriously.
Sudden Mood Changes: Keep an eye out for extreme mood swings, such as going from very sad to very happy or vice versa.
Withdrawal: If a teen starts to withdraw from friends, family, and activities they once enjoyed, this could be a sign.
Changes in Behavior: Watch for significant changes in behavior, like neglecting personal hygiene or giving away prized possessions.
Substance Abuse: Teens may turn to drugs or alcohol as a way to cope with their feelings.
Difficulty Sleeping or Sleeping Too Much: Changes in sleep patterns can be an indicator of emotional distress.
Loss of Interest: A sudden loss of interest in hobbies, sports, or activities can be a sign of depression.
School Troubles: Academic problems, such as a drop in grades or attendance issues, might be linked to underlying emotional struggles.
Reckless Behavior: Engaging in risky behaviors, like reckless driving or substance abuse, can indicate a desire to harm themselves.
Giving Away Possessions: If a teen starts giving away their belongings or making arrangements for their pets, it’s a concerning sign.
What to Do If You Suspect a Teen is at Risk:
Talk to Them: Don’t be afraid to ask a teen if they’re feeling down or if they’ve had thoughts of hurting themselves. Talking about it can be a relief for them.
Listen Actively: When they do open up, listen without judgment. Let them express their feelings, and avoid offering quick solutions.
Seek Professional Help: Encourage them to talk to a mental health professional. Therapy can be incredibly helpful in addressing their emotional struggles. At Authentic Connections Counseling Center, we have trained therapists standing by to provide that assistance.
Involve Trusted Adults: Reach out to other trusted adults in their life, such as teachers, coaches, or school counselors, who can offer support and guidance.
Local Resources: The Community Response Team in Castle Rock has partnered with law enforcement and mental health professionals to provide free and confidential support for teens in distress including prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones. Available 24/7 at the 988 lifeline.
Remove Access to Harmful Items: If you’re concerned about their safety, make sure they don’t have access to dangerous items like firearms, medications, or sharp objects.
Stay Connected: Keep the lines of communication open. Let them know you’re there for them, and check in regularly.
Educate Yourself: Learn more about mental health issues and suicide prevention. Understanding the challenges they face can help you provide better support.
Suicide is Preventable:
It’s important to remember that suicide is preventable, and many teens who receive the right support go on to lead happy, fulfilling lives. By recognizing the signs and taking action early, you can make a significant difference in a teenager’s life.
If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, reach out to Authentic Connections Counseling Center, a school counselor, or a trusted adult immediately. You are not alone, and help is available. Here at Authentic Connections Counseling Center we are well-equipped to help you and your teen and will involve you both every step of the way to ensure you and your teen feel comfortable and cared for throughout the entire process. We have many therapists to choose from once you’re ready to make the phone call, please reach out to us at 720-370-3010 or email us at [email protected] for more information. The right therapist can make all the difference in your family’s life and overall well-being and we would be honored to be that difference in yours!
Written By: Alexa Berstler, BS, Counseling Intern