Many parents are, unfortunately, not aware of how common the problem of teen suicide is. In America, it's estimated there is an average of more than 3,000 suicide attempts every day by young people in grades 9 to 12. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people ages 10 to 24, killing more teens and young adults than cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia, influenza and chronic lung disease combined.
Studies have found that four out of five teens who attempt suicide have given clear warning signs, yet too often such signs are ignored or simply not noticed or recognized.
Life today can seem overwhelming for many adolescents. Young people are confronted with physical and hormonal changes, school grade anxieties, being socially accepted and making life decisions about college or employment choices. Other factors, such as a parental divorce, a seriously ill relative or even moving to a new home can bring added levels of stress and anxiety. Being bullied, whether in person or online, will also contribute to the negative feelings a teen may be experiencing.
Teens affected by such factors are often suffering from depression and suicide may simply seem the easiest way to escape the blackness they are feeling. Depression is a mental health issue that doesn't cure itself, but it does have a number of signs that can help a parent spot a teen in trouble.
Teens suffering from depression will often exhibit changes in eating and sleeping habits. They often are withdrawn, losing interest in friends and family, and no longer participating in favorite activities. Their school work may be suffering, they may have difficulty concentrating, and may not pay much attention to their personal hygiene and appearance.
In some cases the teen may verbalize feelings of wanting to die or simply outright threaten suicide. The warnings given may be more subtle, like saying "I won't be a problem much longer." Any such references to death or suicide are clear cries for help and shouldn't be ignored.
Depression, whether in a teen or adult, is a mental health problem that can be treated. Any signs that a teen may be considering suicide should call for immediate action. Talk to your family physician or a professional counselor. There's also information and help from the National Suicide Prevention hotline at 1-800-273-8255. Acting early can help save a young life.