The Problem of Teen Suicide: A Parent’s Guide

August 18, 2019
Suicide among adolescents is one of the issues that worries parents the most. Therefore, we want to share today's article in order to tell parents what they need to know about teen suicide.

Teen suicide is one of the issues that worries parents the most. No parent can be sure whether their teen has ever considered suicide – no family is exempt. Many teens suffer in silence, unable to find the solution to their problems and anguish.

There’s no doubt that adolescence is an awkward and confusing time. Individuals find themselves in the middle of the transition from childhood to adulthood. 

It’s a time in their lives that is full of uncertainty, and teens tend to feel isolated from their family members and peers. As a result, some may experience suicidal thoughts which can become stronger with time. 

As parents, it’s important to discover if these kinds of thoughts are going through your child’s head. In this sense, reaching out for necessary help is fundamental in order to provide maximum family and professional support.

Unfortunately, at one time or another, many teens consider suicide as a permanent solution to their problems. This is especially true when the problems are persistent. Their own doubts, confusion, pressure to be successful or fit in can be quite costly for children who are at risk.

Teen suicide: signs to watch out for

Teenagers usually give off certain signs that they’ve lost hope and no longer have a desire to live. Given that adolescence is a turbulent time in a child’s life, the signs may be hard to spot.

What’s true is that these warning signs manifest themselves mainly through changes in behavior. We’re referring to loss of interest in activities and an inability to concentrate on school work.

Other signs include no longer caring about personal appearance, sadness, and changes in how the teen normally acts.

The Problem of Teen Suicide: A Parent's Guide

As parents, we must not make light of these kinds of behaviors. And when it comes to actual suicide attempts, immediate intervention is paramount. If your child shows any of these signs, seek professional help right away. 

Without a doubt, besides professional treatment, teens need to understand that there are many people who are concerned for their well-being. If the subject ever comes up in conversation, allow your teen to express his or her feelings without judging. Teens need to know that your love and care is unconditional.

Allow teens to express their feelings

It’s worth mentioning once again how important it is to give teens the opportunity to express their feelings. This has a preventative effect. Therefore, don’t hesitate to bring up the subject and ask teens questions so they can talk about what they’re experiencing.

However, not all children feel confident or comfortable talking about these things with their parents. If that’s the case, involving other family members, school counselors, doctors or other trusted professionals can be helpful. Basically, the goal is to help troubled teens get the assistance they need.

In fact, doctors, including psychologists, offer professional evaluations and treatment for the causes that lead to depression. Without a doubt, psychological intervention can help teens develop the adaptive mechanisms they need to take on their problems.

Teen suicide: Risk factors

Among the most frequent risk factors for teen suicide are the following:

  • Adolescence itself, as part of the development of a person’s personality
  • Family or community history of suicide or suicide attempts
  • Psychiatric disorders like anxiety, depression and schizophrenia
  • Limited social integration
  • Being a victim of sexual abuse
  • Poor health
  • A personal history of suicide attempts and relapse: This is the biggest risk factor in teen suicide.
The Problem of Teen Suicide: A Parent's Guide

Besides the circumstantial pressures of adolescent life, specific circumstances can further contribute to thoughts of suicide. 

The source of anxiety is harder to resolve when teens are facing circumstances that are beyond their control. These circumstances may affect them directly, or they may be affecting someone they love. For example:

Before closing, we want to remind you that teen suicide is an issue that deserves all of our attention. In this sense, you should pay attention to any change in your child’s behavior that signifies a major shift in his or her normal attitude.

Act immediately. If needed, seek the help of professionals who can intervene in the situation. Without a doubt, the seriousness of this issue deserves an urgent response.

  • Laufer, E. (1987). “Suicide in adolescence”, Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy3 (1), 1-10.
  • Hinduja, S., & Patchin, J. W. (2010). “Bullying, cyberbullying, and suicide”, Archives of Suicide Research14 (3), 206-221.
  • Hawton, K., & van Heeringen, K. (2009). “Suicide”, The Lancet, 373 (9672):  P1372-1381.