Preventing Suicide Among Children and Teens
Suicide rates among children and adolescents have increased very significantly over the last several decades. Suicidal children and teens often take overdoses of prescription drugs in their home and guns(they must be kept safely)are increasingly used in suicides.
Child suicides are often linked to the loss or anticipated loss of a loved one, family stress, unemployment in the parent, parental abuse, and severe depression. Children who commit suicide frequently show a deterioration in the quality of their behavior including withdrawal from family and friends, temper tantrums, destructive and delinquent behavior, including running away from home.
About half of teen suicides are related to severe depression and feelings of hopelessness. Other factors that appear to be involved are poor family relations and conflict, social isolation, boyfriend/girlfriend problems and school pressures.
Child and adolescent natural emotional immaturity and tendencies toward impulsiveness, suggestibility (the imitation of others), anger, and heightened sensitivity are relate to increased rates of suicide. Drug and alcohol abuse and the weakening of family ties (divorce, family mobility, and the reduction in extended families) are a significant part of this problem.
Also, a history of suicide attempts within the family (or individuals that the adolescent loves or admires), a history of self-inflicted injuries (cutting or burning,etc), or actual suicide attempts should alert parents or guardians to a heightened danger of suicidal thinking or behavior in their children or teens.
If you worry that your child or adolescent is at any risk for suicidal thinking it is essential that you talk to them about their feelings, and take their emotions seriously. If you suspect that they may be thinking about suicide, ask them about it directly. If suicide is mentioned or even hinted at in small ways get professional help immediatley. If emotional problems persist,even without concerns of suicide, get professional help and do not put it off. It is important to consult your family physician to rule out medical issues and then have your child or teen evaluated by a psychologist. Individual and family counseling can reduce emotional problems and the risks of suicide. If there are severe psychological disorders involved (depression, anxiety, mood-swings, etc.), medication management may be necessary.
Please visit the following websites for more information about preventing suicide in Teens and in children:
Dr. Tom, 12/05/09