Teen suicide is a growing health concern. It is the third-leading cause of death for young people ages 15 to 24, surpassed only by homicide and accidents, according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
According to experts, causes of suicidal distress can be due to psychological, environmental and social factors. Mental illness is the leading risk factor for suicide. Suicide risk factors vary with age, gender, ethnic group, family dynamics and stressful life events. According to a 2004 report distributed by the National Institute of Mental Health, research shows that risk factors for suicide include depression, other mental disorders and substance-abuse disorders (often in combination with other mental disorders). More than 90 percent of people who die by suicide have these risk factors. The risk for suicide frequently occurs in combination with external circumstances that seem to overwhelm at-risk teens who are unable to cope with the challenges of adolescence because of predisposing vulnerabilities such as mental disorders. Examples of stressors are disciplinary problems, interpersonal losses, family violence, sexual orientation confusion, physical and sexual abuse and being the victim of bullying.
Screening programs have proven to be helpful because research has shown that suicidal people show signs of depression or emotional distress. Referrals can be made for treatment, and effective treatment can be employed when signs are observed in time. Intervention efforts for at-risk youth can put them in contact with mental health services like GenPsych that can save their lives.
Suicide is a relatively rare event and it is difficult to accurately predict which persons with these risk factors will ultimately commit suicide. However, there are some possible warning signs such as:
- Talking About Dying — any mention of dying, disappearing, jumping, shooting oneself, or other types of self harm
- Recent Loss — through death, divorce, separation, broken relationship, self-confidence, self-esteem, loss of interest in friends, hobbies, activities previously enjoyed
- Change in Personality — sad, withdrawn, irritable, anxious, tired, indecisive, apathetic
- Change in Behavior — can’t concentrate on school, work, routine tasks
- Change in Sleep Patterns — insomnia, often with early waking or oversleeping, nightmares
- Change in Eating Habits — loss of appetite and weight, or overeating
- Fear of losing control – acting erratically, harming self or others
- Low self esteem — feeling worthless, shame, overwhelming guilt, self-hatred, “everyone would be better off without me”
- No hope for the future — believing things will never get better; that nothing will ever change
If you or a loved one is experiencing these warning signs contact GenPsych today
at 1-855-GENPSYCH (436-7792).