Suicidal Teens: Know the Warning Signs

Thursday, April 18th, 2019

When most of us think of the teenage years, we envision a carefree time filled with friends and lots of laughter. But for many of today’s teens, those carefree, laughter-filled days are replaced with an overwhelming sense of sadness.

The reality is that teen depression and anxiety are on the rise. Even more disturbing is the fact that suicide rates for young people are also climbing.

A study by the Journal of Abnormal Psychology found that rates of depression in kids ages 14 to 17 increased by more than 60% from 2009 to 2017.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 4,600 individuals a year in the United States between the ages of 10 and 24 die from suicide. It’s the third leading cause of death for people in this age bracket.

What’s causing the increase in depression and suicides in young people? Some experts see a correlation between depression and suicide and the increased use of social media.

As leaders, youth directors, staff and volunteers, it’s important to keep your eyes and ears open for warning signs of mental health problems and suicidal thoughts in teens and young adults.

Here are some behaviors that may indicate a young person could be at risk for committing suicide:

  • They are threatening suicide.
  • They are abusing drugs or alcohol.
  • They are acting withdrawn or hopeless.
  • They are expressing unusual anger or mood changes.

If you see any of these behaviors in a young person at your church or organization or in your family, it’s important to talk with them. According to experts from the Mayo Clinic, contrary to what you might believe, asking someone whether they are having suicidal thoughts won’t push them into harming themselves. In fact, talking about it may actually reduce the chances of someone acting on these thoughts. Mental health services are out there for young people who are thinking of ending their life. It’s important that you help a youth exhibiting signs of depression receive professional help as soon as possible.