When a teenager dies due to deep feelings of hopelessness, the effect on family and friends can be devastating. Often time, family, friends, and even the community at large harbor feelings of guilt. They feel that something could have been done to keep the person from committing suicide.
Teenage suicide is a fast-rising global health issue. In fact, it is ranked as the third leading cause of death for teenagers, responsible for about 20% of teenage deaths every year. Teenagers may resort to firearms, poison or may even suffocate themselves when attempting suicide.
Amidst all the guilt and guessing, we can never know why exactly a teenager eventually takes their own life. The truth is that most teens who contemplate suicide want to stay alive, but most times they feel overwhelmed by the problems they face. At that point, suicide becomes their only way out.
The warning signs
Bad experiences at school, emotional trauma resulting from a breakup, losing a loved one, parental separation or family problems are some of the reasons that lead to teenage suicide. It is therefore very important that you know the warning signs to look out for. This will help you to identify teenagers who stand a risk and help them. Below are five warning signs:
Changes in personality:
Gradual or even sudden changes may occur in the behavior of teenagers who contemplate suicide. You may find them acting in ways that originally conflict with their personal values. They may become withdrawn and less concerned about things, or may suddenly become extroverted
If a teen begins to get irritable, agitated, moody, or even angry for no reason, then he/she may be contemplating suicide. Teens may also be unable to sleep or may experience outbursts of anger at very minor issues.
Talk and Actions
Teens who contemplate suicide may begin to talk about not wanting to be alive, not being around much longer, buying a weapon, asking questions about death and even buying pills. They may also make statements like "I won't be missed by anyone", "I am a burden to my family", "no one likes me." They may also express feelings of pain or frustration, or even feelings of hopelessness.
When teens contemplate suicide, they may exhibit moods ranging from uncontrollable anger, feelings of depression, and being irritable, to feelings of humiliation, shame and, anxiety.
Suicidal teenagers may begin to show changes in behavior such as increasingly isolating themselves from family and friends, excessive or very little sleep, changes in eating habits, increased alcohol or drug consumption, loss of interest in appearance, falling grades, loss of interests in hobbies and even suddenly being social after a period of isolation.
What to do about the warning signs
If you feel that a teenager might be contemplating suicide, treat it with serious concern and take immediate action. You can take the following steps:
- Ask them directly if they are contemplating suicide
- Talk to their friends
- Limit their access to objects like pills, knives, etc
- Get professional help
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