Teen Suicide Help

Posted on September 3, 2012

Males are four times more likely to die of suicide than are females; however, females are more likely to make a suicide attempt  than are males.

Suicide and Substance Abuse

There is a particularly strong relationship between substance abuse and adolescent suicide. You should be aware of the following suicide facts and the association between suicide and substance abuse:

  • Abuse of drugs and alcohol is a major risk factor in suicide.
  • Substance intoxication is associated with increased violence, both toward others and self.

How to Care for a Troubled Teen

  • Learn to recognize mood symptoms that may indicate a greater problem.
  • Encourage professional help for the teen before they develop the mindset of using external agents to combat symptoms.
  • Don’t minimize the teen problem.

Foster Open Communication

Try not to say things like, “It isn’t really that bad, is it?” or “In five years you won’t care about any of this stuff.” You may think you are putting things in perspective, or pointing out that others are “worse off” in an attempt to get the teen to see their issue in relation to the larger world.  But kids often perceive that you “don’t get it.” Keep these thoughts in mind:

  • Minimizing makes teens feel misunderstood and isolated.
  • Don’t tell kids how they should feel. For example, “You shouldn’t let this bother you,” or “You know you don’t really feel that way” are not helpful.
  • Imagine how disrespected you would feel if you shared personal feelings with someone and they minimized your experience this way.
  • Invalidating their feelings and perspective makes it unlikely that teens will share more with you.
  • Don’t offer false reassurance regarding things beyond your control. Statements like, “Everything will work out for the best!” or “Your mom will come around,” may be an attempt to model hopefulness and a positive attitude, but no real plan for problem solving is made.
  • Don’t blame them for the problem. Some examples of this are, “You must have done something to make him say that to you,” or “What can you do to change this?” True, teens may have some responsibility in the problem, but be careful about jumping to this step too soon. Putting that out there too early can be perceived as blaming, which is one of the quickest ways to shut down communication.

Warning Signs connected with Teenage Suicide

  • Chaotic home environment (particularly where parents abuse substances or suffer from untreated mental illness)
  • Controlling parenting
  • Lack of parent-child attachment and nurturing
  • Inappropriate shy or aggressive classroom behavior
  • Failure in school performance
  • Poor social coping skills
  • Affiliations with peers displaying deviant behaviors
  • Perceptions of approval of drug using behaviors

Suicide Prevention Factors

  • Strong and positive family bonds
  • Parental realistic monitoring of teen’s activities and peers
  • Clear rules of conduct consistently enforced in the family
  • Involvement (but not over) of parents in the lives of their children
  • Success in school performance
  • Strong bonds with institutions, such as school or religious organizations
  • Adoption of conventional norms about drug use

Suicide Help

 What should you do if you suspect a teen may need help?

  • Be aware that many kids will eventually reach out for help
  • Understand that they are NOT bad kids – they simply need help
  • Never express surprise or judgment
  • Don’t believe everything you hear
  • Avoid “why” questions
  • Don’t argue with the teen
  • Don’t be afraid of periods of silence
  • Don’t intimidate with your “parental” position
  • Encourage professional help for the teen 
  • Admit to yourself that you may not be able to address everything that the teen needs – recognize your limitations

You may need some help with the situation before it gets worse. The integration of professional services and volunteers is critical to the optimal treatment of teens in crisis.

 

Written by: Rebecca Heger

Rebecca  is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and a Licensed Clinical Addiction Counselor.  She focuses on counseling for teenagers and help for young adults in Indianapolis. To contact Rebecca, call (317) 474-6448 x 111 or email Rebecca@groffandassociates.com.

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NzE6Imh0dHA6Ly9ncm9mZmFuZGFzc29jaWF0ZXMuY29tL3dwLWNvbnRlbnQvd29vX3VwbG9hZHMvMy1ncm9mZl9oZWFkZXIucG5nIjt9PC9saT48L3VsPg==