It’s Teen Mental Health Awareness Month: Let’s Talk About Teen Suicide and Depression

May 31, 2018 | ACE/Adverse Childhood Experiences, Children's Mental Health, Health and wellness

Did you know that suicide is the third leading cause of death for youth between the ages of 10 and 24, resulting in 4,513 deaths in just one year alone?  Further, in a survey of high school students, 13.8 percent reported that they had seriously considered attempting suicide while 10.9 percent had made a plan for how they would do it.
Important mental health habits—including coping, resilience, and good judgment—help adolescents to achieve overall wellbeing and set the stage for positive mental health in adulthood.
Many teens who attempt or commit suicide have given some type of warning to their peers or loved ones ahead of time.
Learning more about what might lead a teen to consider suicide, could help prevent further tragedies. Even though it may not always be preventable, it’s always a good idea to be informed and take action to help a teenager in need.
We CAN Change Everything Together!

It’s Teen Mental Health Awareness Month: Let’s Talk About Teen Suicide and Depression

As a society, the conversation of mental health is becoming more widely accepted and openly discussed. The greatest service that we can do to those who live with mental illness is to become better informed and educated. Frankly, the earlier we start talking about mental health, the better. By introducing kids to the topic of mental health, we will make what was once a taboo topic part of everyday conversation. This in turn will facilitate the opportunity for open dialogue to continue through adulthood. May is recognized as Mental Health Awareness Month, and while it’s great that there is a specific month dedicated to raising awareness, mental health should be top of mind year round.
The reality of the matter is, 20% of youth between the ages of 13-18 experience a mental disorder at some point during their life. We use the term mental disorder in a broad sense because there are many illnesses that fall under this umbrella. It’s impossible to define “mental disorder” using one term. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the most common mental health issues among adolescents are: ADHD, anxiety, depression and suicide. Our focus is on mental illness in kids, more specifically, suicide and depression in teens.
The majority of children who live with diagnosable anxiety and depression are not getting treatment. 90% of those who have died by suicide had an underlying mental illness. As a society, where do we begin to fix this problem? We must be able to identify risk factors and warning signs in our kids. At the American Society for the Positive Care of Children, we’ve asked and answered two very important questions about teen suicide:
Risk factors vary with age, gender and race. It is important to remember that not every individual’s case is the same. Some risk factors may occur independently, while others appear in combination and change over time. It is important to state that these risk factors do not automatically qualify someone as suicidal. But they are certainly worth noting. Some important risk factors include:
Depression and other mental disorders

  1. Substance-abuse disorder
  2. Prior suicide attempt
  3. Family history of suicide
  4. Family violence including physical or sexual abuse
  5. Firearms in the home
  6. Incarceration
  7. Exposure to suicidal behavior of others

There are a number of signs that you might notice that can potentially be a cause of concern. Whether you observe changes in yourself or someone you know, it’s important to be aware and know when to seek help. Remember, seeking help does not equate to weakness. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. Whether it’s for yourself or someone you know, reach out and ask for help if you feel it is needed. Some signs include:

  1. Talking about wanting to die or kill oneself
  2. Looking for a way to kill oneself, such as searching online or buying a gun
  3. Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
  4. Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
  5. Talking about being a burden to others
  6. Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
  7. Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly
  8. Sleeping too little or too much
  9. Withdrawing or feeling isolated
  10. Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  11. Displaying extreme mood swings

American SPCC’s mission is to empower a network of individuals and organizations dedicated to the positive physical, emotional, and intellectual development of children and youth in the United States. A mission that many other organizations support and strive to contribute to.
Jumo Health is just one example of many. If you create a free account, you will have instant access to a variety of different resourceful materials. One of which being a depression discussion guide. No matter the stage of diagnosis, the guide will help steer conversations with your doctor. Asking simple questions like, “what is depression?” or “why is my child depressed?” can bring up questions and information you never knew you needed.
Perhaps a diagnosis has made you feel isolated? You’re not alone. Jumo’s mental health podcast follows the life of Gianna, a high school junior who has lived experience of depression, anxiety and a suicide attempt. She’s sharing her story to start a conversation and shed light on the reality that many are experiencing, but are afraid to talk about.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a service available to everyone 24 hours a day. They can be reached at the toll-free number 1-800-273-TALK (8225). The lifeline provides free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals.
The STOMP Out Bullying HelpChat Line is a service helping youths (13-24) who are bullied, cyberbullied, and at-risk for suicide. The live helpchat line is designed to help empower those to make healthy decisions.

Be sure to take a look at the complete list of recommended hotlines and resources for depressed teens and their families, on our teen suicide and depression page. Knowledge is power. The right information can save a life, so continue the conversation and help stop the stigma.

Kid’s need our voice like never before!
American SPCC encourages you to join us as we help create a brighter future for children. By investing in children’s futures, we reach 1000’s per day, creating real impact in families and communities.
TAKE ACTION and start making a positive difference in the life of a child today!
Together, we can ensure that each generation has a better chance at a brighter future than the one before.

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