Each week we see more stories about teens taking their lives. The news is filled with these tragedies. Social media has put so much pressure on young people and they often have immediate, extreme reactions to bad news (like a breakup, an embarrassing event, etc) instead of taking a breath and realizing that it’s going to be ok.
Just last week we received a call about someone who was considering taking their life but was able to take a moment instead to feel their feelings and move forward, beyond the temporary setback. Social media amplifies feelings of inadequacy because everyone is comparing themselves to their favorite influencer or even their friends who seem to be living the perfect life.
Every parent worries about their child’s wellbeing. We all want to protect our children from harm, but as they grow older, it can be difficult to know how best to do that. Teen suicide is a serious issue and one that affects more young people than we like to admit. It’s important for parents of teenagers to be aware of the warning signs and how to help their children if they are in crisis.
Know the Warning Signs
It’s not always easy to tell when a teen is at risk of suicide, but there are some signs that may indicate a problem. If your teen is displaying any combination of these signs, it is important that you take them seriously and seek professional help—even if you think it might be nothing:
- Talking or writing about death or suicide
- Withdrawing from family and friends
- Giving away possessions
- Feeling hopeless or helpless
- Experiencing dramatic mood changes
- Abusing drugs or alcohol
- Engaging in risky behavior
- Displaying extreme mood swings
- Losing interest in activities they used to enjoy
Be There for Your Teenager
If you suspect your teenager might be suicidal, it’s important that you talk with them and let them know that they can come to you no matter what. Let them know that whatever they are feeling, they don’t have to face it alone – you will always be there for them. Encourage them to talk about their feelings so that together you can find ways of coping with stress, anxiety, or depression. It’s also important to recognize the role technology plays in your teenager’s life; consider having constructive conversations with your teen about how they use technology.
Digital addiction & gaming addiction are also important to understand, especially with the heavy use of technology for all people these days, in particular teens. Learn more about digital addiction and gaming addiction.
Encourage Healthy Coping Strategies
When your teenager is feeling overwhelmed by emotions such as sadness, anger, fear, or guilt, suggest healthy coping strategies like going for a walk or listening to music instead of turning towards unhealthy choices such as drinking alcohol or using drugs. Other things teens can do include journaling their feelings, reaching out for support from family and friends (or even attending support groups), drawing/painting/creating art as an outlet for their emotions, volunteering at an animal shelter (or other place of service), engaging in physical activity like running or yoga – the possibilities are endless! These activities may seem trivial but they can make a real difference when it comes to helping teens manage their emotions in healthy ways.
If you are looking for a strategy and actionable steps to take with your family, consider our family coaching plans. They help you connect with loved ones and move past barriers in a healthy, proven way. Learn more here.
As parents of teenagers we want nothing more than for our children to be happy and safe; unfortunately this isn’t always possible due to circumstances beyond our control. However, being aware of the warning signs of teenage suicide and understanding how best we can support our teens through difficult times will hopefully help us prevent any tragedy from occurring within our families.
If ever you have concerns about your child’s mental health please do not hesitate in seeking help from qualified professionals such as counselors and therapists who specialize in adolescent mental health care. There is no shame in asking for help – only strength – so please reach out if ever needed! I always answer my own phone and am happy to talk.