Helping Suicidal Teens
People who are depressed and thinking about suicide often show changes in their behavior. These changes in behavior are usually an outgrowth of depression and are warning signs. If your teen shows these warning signs, please talk to her about her concerns and have her get help if the warning signs continue.
Before committing suicide, people often threaten to kill themselves. These threats should always be taken seriously, as should previous suicide attempts. Most people who commit suicide have made at least one previous attempt.
Asking your teen whether he is depressed or is thinking about suicide lets him know that someone cares. You're not putting thoughts of suicide into his head. Instead you're giving your teen the chance to talk about his problems.
Remember that depression and suicidal feelings are treatable mental disorders. The first step is to listen to your adolescent. A professional must then diagnose your teen's illness and determine a proper treatment plan. Your teen needs to share her feelings, and many suicidal teens are pleading for help in their own way. Your teen needs to feel that there is hope–that people will listen, that things will get better, and that she can overcome her problems.
Parents and friends can help a depressed teen through the following strategies:
A teen attempting suicide should immediately be taken to a hospital emergency room for a psychiatric evaluation. If a depressed adolescent is assessed to be safe to go home, it's a good idea to remove from your home any lethal, accessible means to commit suicide, such as medications, firearms, razors, knives, etc.
Other sources of help
There are many sources of information to help troubled teens and their families. Often a pediatrician, who has charted the adolescent's physical and emotional progress since infancy, is in the best position to detect and help treat adolescent depression. Your teen may, however, need additional counseling. Check the Yellow Pages in your city for the phone numbers of local suicide hot lines, crisis centers, and mental health centers.
The following organizations can also supply information on suicide prevention:
American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
3615 Wisconsin Ave, NW, Washington, DC 20016 202/966-7300
American Association of Suicidology
4201 Connecticut Ave, NW, Suite 310, Washington, DC 20008 202/237-2280
American Psychiatric Association
1400 K St, NW, Suite 501, Washington, DC 20005 202/682-6000
American Psychological Association
750 1st St, NE, Washington, DC 20002 202/336-5700
National Mental Health Association
1021 Prince St, Alexandria, VA 22314-2971 800/969-6642
With professional treatment and support from family and friends, teens who are suicidal can become healthy again.