September is National Suicide Prevention Month, so it’s time to talk about a very difficult topic. Unlike the other leading causes of death among teens, suicide is 100% preventable. However, CDC reporting is showing that the suicide rate across the country has been rising steadily since 1999.
Warning signs of suicidal thoughts
If you think your teen is struggling with suicidal thoughts, keep an eye out for some common warning signs.
- A significant change in behavior
This could include being more aggressive than usual, being more depressed than usual, or even being significantly happier than usual. Sudden, significant changes in someone’s general behavior can be a sign of suicide ideation.
- Impulsive or dangerous behavior
If your son has started engaging in more impulsive and dangerous behavior, they may be struggling with suicidal thoughts.
- Increased substance abuse
Increased alcohol and/or drug use is common among people experiencing suicidal thoughts. Approximately one-third of people who commit suicide have been drinking alcohol at the time of their death.
- Withdrawing from people they care about
This is often a sign of depression as well as suicidal thoughts. Studies have shown that over 40% of people who commit suicide have a known mental illness. If your son already struggles with depression, or you are worried that he might be depressed, seek help from mental health professionals for treatment.
- Withdrawing from activities that used to be fun
Like withdrawing from the people they care about, withdrawing from activities that are typically fun can be a warning sign for teens struggling with suicidal thoughts.
Recognizing Suicidal Behaviors
Some common suicidal behaviors that escalate from suicidal thoughts include:
- Giving away their possessions
- Saying goodbye to family or friends
- Buying a weapon or saving things that could be used in a suicide attempt
(Ex: saving pills)
If you see someone displaying suicidal behaviors, seek help from a professional immediately. Call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).