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10 Suicide Warning Signs In Teens — Make Sure These Don't Go Unnoticed

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Know the Signs of Teen Suicidal Thoughts
Family

Don't ignore these.

Teen depression is an extremely dangerous issue that often goes unnoticed. 

In many situations, the symptoms of teen depression can mimic other issues, such as simply being a moody teenager. This makes it difficult for parents to be aware of what is happening to their child. In fact, the parents are often the last ones to know that their child is dealing with depression.

One of the most serious effects of depression is suicide. Unfortunately, it is easy to miss the signs of depression or teen suicidal thoughts or to mistakenly assume they are only symptoms of a phase your child may be going through.

Learning information about what might lead a teen to suicide may help to prevent the risk of tragedies. Even though suicide is not always preventable, it is always a good idea to be as informed as possible and to take action to help a potentially troubled teenager

One of the most important ways to be informed is to know and recognize the warning signs of teen suicidal thoughts early in order to get the child the help they need before it’s too late.

Some of the suicide warning signs your teen may be thinking about include:

1. They lose interest in their favorite activities.

For example, maybe your teen was involved in a school sport and quits without being able to provide a satisfactory explanation for their quitting.

Other unusual behaviors should also be questioned, such as if your teen has been involved in any type of hobby and suddenly stops doing what they previously enjoyed. This may be an indication that they are depressed and may be having thoughts of suicide.

2. They withdraw from social interactions. 

Teens that have thoughts of suicide often withdraw from some of their social interactions. However, they may not completely cut themselves off from all of their friends.

If your teen is suddenly making excuses to not go to family events, avoids interacting with family members, or suddenly stops going to a friend's house or having friends over, it may also be a sign of depression or thoughts of suicide.

3. They neglect their personal hygiene.

Teenagers are notorious for wanting to dress fashionably and are typically overly cautious in their personal hygiene. Teens who are thinking about suicide often stop caring about how they dress or their personal hygiene.

If your teen is typically cautious about their personal hygiene and suddenly shows no interest in how they dress or lose interest in their appearance, it may be a cause for concern.

4. They complain of physical discomfort.

Being emotionally distressed can also cause your teen to experience physical pain and discomfort. Teens who are contemplating suicide often complain about fatigue, stomachaches, migraines and/or other physical issues, but there isn’t any physiological or other explanation for their pain. These issues should be addressed immediately.

5. Loss of interest in their school work.

Many suicidal teens will struggle with caring about their school work. Most will not pay attention while in the classroom and are failing their classes. If you teen suddenly has a drop in their grades, it may be a concern.

6. They are unmotivated. 

Depressed teenagers often complain of being bored and they appear unmotivated about anything. As time goes by, they may act as though nothing in their life is important.

7. There are signs of substance abuse.

If you notice signs of drug or alcohol abuse (whether legal or illegal), it is a red flag that should not be ignored, especially if this is sudden behavior for your teen.

8. They are taking dangerous risks.

Teens who engage in dangerous activities and talk about doing life-threatening activities may be depressed and suicidal. The teen may be at a phase where they want to do something daring in order for them to "feel alive" or they may push the limits in order to hurt themselves or get closer to death.

9. They joke or talk about death.

When a teen talks about death and dying and the conversation is out of the blue or not related to the current conversation, it is a serious warning sign that parents should be aware of. While the teen may actually be joking, it will not hurt to err on the side of caution.

10. They are giving away their things.

Teens who are having suicidal thoughts will often give away their possessions.

Regardless of how inexpensive an item is, if your teen is giving away their belongings or makes comments like "I want you to have this if I die", it is a serious issue and typically means the teen is having thoughts of suicide and wants to ensure their possessions go to those who have significance to the item after their death.

It is extremely important to keep a close eye out for teen suicidal thoughts if your teen is depressed and withdrawn.

Understanding teen depression is extremely important because it may look different from the commonly held beliefs about depression.

For example, depression among teens may take the form of problems with grades, friends, sleep, or simply being cranky and irritable instead of being chronically sad or crying.

Listen between the lines when your teen is talking. For example, saying they are tired or sleepy but have had a good night’s sleep

The single most important thing parents can do when they see any warning signs of teen suicidal thoughts is to provide them support.

It is common for parents to be reluctant about asking their teen if they have been thinking about hurting themselves or if they are thinking about suicide. Some parents fear that by asking, they are going to plant the idea of suicide into their teen’s head.

As difficult as it may be, it is always a good idea to ask. Sometimes it is helpful to explain why you are asking. For example, you may say that you’ve noticed they have been talking a lot lately about wanting to be dead: "Have you been having thoughts of trying to hurt yourself?"

Suicidal teens have often lost hope in life and feel as though what they are going through is impossible to overcome. If their parents show them that they will be there for them no matter what happens and that they will find hope again, it can be a significant help in preventing suicide. 

It is critical that you try to keep the lines of communication open and express your support, concern, and love. If your teenager confides in you, show them that you take these concerns seriously. In most situations, a fight with a friend may not seem like a big deal to you, but for a teenager, it can feel consuming and overwhelming.

It is important to not minimize or discount what your teenager is going through, because this may increase their sense of hopelessness. If your teen does not feel comfortable talking with you, suggest someone more neutral, such as another relative, a school counselor, a member of the clergy, or your teen’s physician.

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