If you, or someone you know, feels suicidal, don't hesitate to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK.
If someone you know tells you that he or she is going to kill him or herself, it's an emergency. CALL 911.
Do Teens REALLY Get Depressed?
There's a grossly common misconception among adults - teenage depression is simply due to the hormonal changes of puberty and is "just one of those things" that all teenagers go through.
It's also why so many teens don't trust adults - who can blame them?
Teen depression is every bit as real as depression in adults. If left untreated, teen depression can lead to a huge amount of problems at home, in school, can make the teen hate him or herself, and, scariest of all, want to die by suicide.
Think I'm exaggerating for effect? You're wrong - suicide is the third-leading cause of death for people ages 15-24 (accidents and homicide are 1 and 2). This risk for teen suicide increases drastically when teens have access to guns.
So, How's Teen Depression Different Than Adult Depression?
Teen depression looks a lot different than depression in adults.
Read more about teen depression.
A depressed teen may show the following:
- Be in an irritable, grumpy, angry mood most of the time.
- Complain about a lot of weird aches and pains.
- May feel super sensitive to any criticism.
- May withdraw from some friends and other people - but not all.
Who Is At Risk For Teen Suicide?
It's damn hard to be a teenager. Most adults forget that. You're caught in this weird area between childhood and adulthood, learning about yourself and the world around you. It's a hugely stressful time in your life - fitting in, dating, college applications, sex, drugs, those are all crazy-stressful things to be dealing with.
Luckily, the teen years DO end eventually and adulthood, while it comes with it's own neat package of stressors, is much easier to manage and understand.
While most teens experience some stresses, there are a number of things that can increase the risk that a teen might try to die by suicide. These risks can include the following:
- Mental illnesses like teen depression or teen bipolar disorder - 95% of people who die by suicide have a mental illness at the time of their death.
- Using and abusing drugs.
- Complete change in personality.
- Family members who are mentally ill or have died by suicide.
- Feeling like you're distressed, irritable, or agitated.
- Feeling like you're worthless.
- Feeling like you have no hope.
- Having been physically, emotionally, or sexually abused.
- You've tried suicide before.
- Crappy support network.
- Feeling isolated from everyone around you.
- Being of an alternative sexuality - bisexuality or homosexuality.
What "Causes" Teen Suicide?
The reasons that someone might choose suicide vary wildly. Here are some of the more common reasons (but by no means exhaustive) someone might choose suicide:
- Breaking up with a partner
- Failing a test or a course
- Major disappointments
- Major loss
- Family turmoil
Teen Suicide Warning Signs:
Most people who die by suicide don't do it randomly - they've given off a lot of warning signs that they are planning to take their own life.
It is SUPER IMPORTANT to take any talk of suicide seriously. If your friend is talking about suicide, take action. Call the National Suicide Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK or 911 if it's an emergency. Talk to a trusted adult. Just DO something.
Other teen suicide warning signs can include the following:
- Talking about suicide.
- Joking about dying by suicide.
- Giving hints about not being around any more.
- Saying things like, "I'm worthless".
- Saying that they feel guilty.
- Writing poems, songs, letters or stories about death, dying or suicide.
- Making comments like, "I'd be better off dead," "I wish I was dead," "there's no way out."
- Romanticizing suicide and death - "people would love me more if I were dead."
- Behaving recklessly.
- Giving away beloved possessions.
- Making a production of saying goodbye.
- Looking for pills, guns, or rope to use to kill themselves.
How Do I Talk To A Depressed Teen?
A lot of people are afraid to talk to someone who is depressed. They're afraid they'll say the wrong thing, or do the wrong thing, and make it all worse.
Read more about helping a friend who is depressed.
Here are some tips for talking to a depressed - possibly suicidal - teen.
- Tell your friend you're there for them - no matter what.
- Don't pressure them with questions - just make it clear you're there and will be there.
- Be persistent and gentle - talking about depression can be hard. Even so, make sure they know you care.
- Don't be a judgmental ass. If your friend is feeling low, don't get all judgy on their ass - it's not cool and it's not helpful. In fact, it's harmful.
- Validate their feelings - "I understand you're feeling depressed" even if their feelings sound silly. Everyone is entitled to their feelings, no matter how rational they may (or may not) be. There's nothing worse than feeling like your emotions are stupid and wrong.
What Do I Do If My Friend Is Suicidal?
It's a very scary situation, if your friend is feeling suicidal. Do not leave your friend alone, even for a minute, if he or she is talking about suicide. This is an emergency.
If you get a bad feeling, like this might be an emergency, call 911. Don't hesitate. It's better to be proved wrong and feel silly than to lose a friend to suicide.
Ask your friend, "do you have a plan?" (for suicide). If the answer is yes, this is an emergency.
Call the National Suicide Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK for more help and tips for dealing with a suicidal friends.
Tell someone - your friend's parent, the school nurse, anyone. You may feel like an asshole for ratting your friend out, but you're doing the right thing. Better to be a rat than going to a funeral.
Shit. My Friend Died By Suicide. Shit. Fuck.
Suicide leaves behind more uncertainty and doubt than any other type of loss. Those who survive a loss from suicide are called suicide survivors, and grieving a loss due to suicide can be very complicated and hard.
Read more about coping with a loss due to suicide.
Remember that it is NOT YOUR FAULT. You did not cause someone else to die by suicide.
The emotions you feel may be all over the place. You could be fucking furious at your friend for ending his or her own life. You could feel guilty that you didn't do more (this is called survivor's guilt).
Suicide is a complicated loss to grieve.
Read more about suicide survivors.
If you don't feel like you can talk to your parents, I dig it, but talk to SOMEONE. You have to find someone who can talk this out with you. There are lots of therapists who specialize in grief counseling - FIND ONE.
Talk about your friend or loved one who died by suicide. Don't be afraid to mention his or her name.
Talk to your friends and family about the loss - don't isolate yourself.
Gather some friends together and do something to memorialize your friend. Plant a tree in his or her name. Do something tangible with your grief.
If Your Child Dies By Suicide:
Losing a child is painful no matter what the circumstances. It's against the natural order of things for a child to die before his or her parents.
Read more about coping with a loss due to suicide.
Losing a child to suicide, though, is one of the most complicated types of grief and can be very challenging to overcome and heal. Here are some tips for coping with the loss of a child due to suicide.
Resist the urge to isolate yourself from friends and family. Death due to suicide is very isolating because sometimes, people don't know what to say - so they say nothing.
Find some supportive friends and family to talk to. Lean on these people.
Ask for help.
Find a counselor who specializes in grief counseling and talk to him or her.
While you may be suffering unimaginable pain, the rest of your family is, too. Don't forget about siblings of the deceased, who may be suffering in silence so they do not "burden" you.
Anniversaries, birthdays and other holidays may be especially difficult because it will amplify the absence of your child. Don't push yourself on those days to be everything to everyone - just get through them.
Find a survivors of suicide support group and attend it regularly. There is immense comfort in finding others who have been through what you're going through.
Remember that it's normal to feel guilt; to question what you could've done to prevent the suicide.
Remember also that you may never know; the answers you seek may never be found.
Sources of Support For Suicide:
National Hopeline Network (U.S.A.) - www.hopeline.com - 1-800-SUICIDE
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Befrienders Worldwide: Organization that works to provide emotional support to reduce suicide. They want to listen to people who are in distress. They do not judge or tell them what to do. They LISTEN. They can also help with bereavement and grieving that follows the death of a loved one through suicide.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline- The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255) is a 24-hour, toll-free, confidential suicide prevention hotline available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. By dialing 1-800-273-TALK, the call is routed to the nearest crisis center in our national network of more than 140 crisis centers.
We Can Help Us: Teen suicide prevention and awareness site. AWESOME.
Survivors of Suicide: Independently owned site to help those who have lost loved ones to suicide deal with their grief.
Sources of Information About Suicide:
American Association of Suicidology: an educational site that is devoted to is to understand and prevent suicide. They are attempting to advance Suicidology as a science; encouraging, developing and disseminating scholarly work in suicidology They are encourage the development and application of strategies that reduce the incidence and prevalence of suicidal behaviors.
Suicide Awareness Voices Of Education (SAVE): an educational site that's mission is to educate the public about suicide, reduce the stigma of suicide and serve as a resource for those touched by suicide. Many links to community resources, information about intervention strategies to prevent suicide, and all kinds of information about mental illnesses.