Suicide in Adolescents
What is the extent of the problem?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that suicide is the 4th most common cause of death among 10-14 year olds, and is the 3rd most common cause of death among 15-24 year olds.
And the CDC reports that between 7-9% of older adolescents attempt suicide. Suicide attempts are the most common reason for adolescent psychiatric emergency room visits. Teenage Hispanic girls have the highest rates of all groups of suicide attempters and Texas has more reported attempts for this group than those reported nationally.
In short, when it comes to teen suicide, the statistics make it clear that attempted suicide is a big deal, because the human effects of suicidal behavior produce significant burden not only to health care providers, but also to the individual teen, their family, and their friends.
What are the signs that your teen may attempt suicide?
It is important to realize that there are signs or risk factors that often predict suicidal behavior, and by identifying these signs, the tragedy of teen suicide can often be prevented. As parents, it is important to be aware of these signs. One of the problems for parents is that some of these signs can be mistaken for normal adolescent behavior. The following are examples of signs that suicide attempt may occur soon:
- Talking about death and/or suicide (even when joking)
- Online dialogue with people who glamorize suicide
- Stating that no one cares about him/her, or not tolerating praise or rewards
- Evidence that the teen is making plans to kill himself or herself, such as giving away possessions
- Has recent dramatic changes in behavior, such as withdrawing from interactions with friends or family, stopping regular activities; or neglect of personal appearance
- Recent violent actions, rebellious behavior, or running away
- Signs of worsening depression (i.e., depressed mood, no longer enjoying things previously enjoyed, decreased energy, problems sleeping, poor appetite)
- Signs of drug or alcohol use (i.e., alcohol on breath, slurred speech, unsteady when walking)
- Signs of psychosis (i.e., hallucinations or bizarre thoughts)
Warning signs of suicide - American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
My friend is talking about suicide, What should I do - Nemours Foundation Teens Health
Thinking about suicide - Metanoia.org
Report suicidal content posted on Facebook or report suicidal Facebook users
I'm worried about someone after seeing content they've shared about suicide or self-injury on Instagram
Assessment, Referral, Treatment, & Prevention
It is important to identify the above signs, to help prevent suicide from happening.
It is best to get professional help to prevent teen suicide. If you are concerned about your teen, talk to your child's doctor or a qualified mental health professional, regarding where to refer your child for treatment. For example, referral options would include counseling, hospitalization, and/or medication. Counseling can be for the teen individually, or together as a family. The goal is to help your teen to cope with life, and to handle problems, instead of killing themselves. Psychiatric hospitalization is often needed for teens who have many of the signs that suicide may occur very soon. In a psychiatric hospital, the teen is monitored constantly, to prevent a suicide attempt. There, they also receive more intensive counseling to prevent suicide that is typical for outpatient care. Also, medications are available for the treatment of depression and suicidal behaviors.
In addition to your child's doctor, where can you go for help?
San Antonio Hotlines
- Crisis Consultation - 210-358-2524
- Center for Health Care Services Crisis Line - 223-7233 or (800) 316-9241, 24 hours per day
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline - 800-273-TALK (8255) Red Nacional de Prevención del Suicidio - 888-628-9454
- Mental Health Hotline - 800-273-8255
- Suicide Hotline - 800-784-2433
- Community Assistance Resource Line - 877-778-2275
Treatment options in the San Antonio area
- UT Health Science Center at San Antonio Department of Psychiatry - 210-567-5555
- Clarity Child Guidance Center - outpatient services 210-614-7070; inpatient services 210-616-0300
- Nix Behavioral Health Services - 210-579-3800
- Center for Health Care Services - children 210-261-3350; crisis (all ages) 210-223-7233
- Theories and treatment of youth suicide and non-suicidal self-injury - Clarity Child Guidance Center - video
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline - video
- Depression in Children & Adolescents - Clarity Child Guidance Center - video
- American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
- National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
- The Jason Foundation
- How you can help - Texas Suicide Prevention
Education and Information
- Facts about Systems of Care for Children with Emotional Disturbances - National Mental Health Information Center - SAMHSA
- Texas Suicide Factsheet on Hispanic Americans - Mental Health America
- Suicide Prevention: A parent & teen guide to recognizing warning signs - Mental Health America
- 101 Leading Sites on Bipolar Disorder & Depression - Masters in Counseling
- Depression & Self-injury
- Suicide factsheet - Mental Health America
- Suicide - Nemours Foundation - Teens Health
- Texas Suicide Prevention Toolkit - TexasSuicidePrevention.org
- Alamo Area Tean Suicide Prevention Coalition