Signs of a suicidal teenager

Warning Signs of Teen Suicide

Suicide is a leading cause of death in the United States, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), despite public awareness, the suicide rate continues to grow at a staggering pace.

Experts are hypothesizing that increased isolation from others during the COVID-19 pandemic will contribute to a further increase in suicide rates.

Northwestern Medicine Psychologist Nicole L. Francen Schmitt, PsyD, says increased access to social media and negative online media, feelings of isolation, inadequate self-care, and a stigma around mental health care have all been contributing factors to the increase in suicide rates.

Suicidal comments can be cries for help. Take these statements seriously.

The teen suicide epidemic is particularly concerning. Suicide is now the second-leading cause of death in 15- to 19-year-olds. Throughout adolescence, teens and young adults experience major physical, social, emotional and psychological changes. These changes, and the subsequent feelings of stress, uncertainty, fear, confusion, hopelessness and external pressure, can lead some youth to feel overmatched and to see suicide as their only option.

Risk Factors for Teen Suicide

Adolescence is a time of change, so different risk factors can arise or be more prevalent at different times for young adults. Some risk factors include:

  • Existing mental health or substance use disorder — depression, anxiety and alcohol use are most common
  • Impulsive behaviors and tendencies
  • Romantic breakups
  • Peer or social conflict
  • Firearm in the household
  • Family history of suicide
  • Exposure to suicidal behaviors of others
  • Prior suicide attempt(s)

Suicide Warning Signs

These red flags can be signs of suicidal thoughts or symptoms of depression:

  • Changes in eating and sleeping behaviors
  • Alcohol and drug use
  • Withdrawal from friends and family members
  • Neglect of personal appearance
  • Lack of response to praise
  • Irritability
  • Sadness or crying spells
  • Posts on social media suggesting feelings of isolation or depression
  • Talking about or otherwise indicating plans to commit suicide or self-harm

Dr. Francen Schmitt says a common misconception is that self-injurious behavior, such as cutting, burning or picking at skin, is suicidal behavior.

“Self-injury is not necessarily always a predecessor to suicide, but it is something you should seek support from a mental health professional for your teen,” says Dr. Francen Schmitt. “It’s a way your teen is signifying that something is wrong and needs attention.”

Ways to Support Teens

  • Keep an open door. Emphasize that you are always available to talk and that they can trust you. Tell them if their peers exhibit suicidal behavior that they can come to you as a trusted adult.
  • Empathize, don’t criticize. Tell them that you understand and what they are going through is very difficult. Thank them for trusting you. Don’t say, “You have nothing to be sad about,” or, “You are overreacting.” Instead ask, “What do you need?”
  • Don’t minimize their feelings. Avoid phrases like, “Just be positive,” or, “Keep going. You’ve got this.” Instead say, “How can I support you?”

What to Do in Crisis

Call 911 if your teen is in imminent danger due to a suicide threat or attempt.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800.273.8255) offers around-the-clock, free and confidential support to those in need. The Trevor Project is a national organization that provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ youth. The organization and its trained professionals offer several immediate support resources, including a 24/7 crisis and suicide hotline (866.488.7386) and support via text messaging (text START to 678678).

Treatment Options

Threats of suicide reflect feelings of desperation and hopelessness. The person views problems as insurmountable, intolerable and unsolvable. Suicidal comments, then, can be cries for help. Take these statements seriously. Help is available, and evidence-based treatments work.

Northwestern Medicine extends comprehensive consultations, treatment plans and support for a full range of behavioral health issues. Specialists provide research-based treatments, care that’s tailored to individual needs, one-on-one therapy and family involvement in the treatment process.

If you or someone you love is experiencing feelings of hopelessness or thoughts of self-harm, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800.273.8255, or visit your nearest emergency department. Remember, you are not alone.

Teen Suicide | Johns Hopkins Medicine

What is teen suicide?

Suicide is when a teen causes his or her own death on purpose. Before attempting to take his or her own life, a teen may have thoughts of wanting to die. This is called suicidal ideation. He or she may also have suicidal behavior. That’s when a teen is focused on doing things that cause his or her own death.

Suicide is the third leading cause of death in young people ages 15 to 24. The CDC reports that:

  • Boys are 4 times more likely to die from suicide than girls.
  • Girls are more likely to attempt suicide than boys.
  • Guns are used in more than half of youth suicides.

What causes a teen to attempt suicide?

The teen years are a stressful time. They are filled with major changes. These include body changes, changes in thoughts, and changes in feelings. Strong feelings of stress, confusion, fear, and doubt may influence a teen’s problem-solving and decision-making. He or she may also feel a pressure to succeed.

For some teens, normal developmental changes can be very unsettling when combined with other events, such as:

  • Changes in their families, such as divorce or moving to a new town
  • Changes in friendships
  • Problems in school
  • Other losses

These problems may seem too hard or embarrassing to overcome. For some, suicide may seem like a solution.

Which teens are at risk for suicide?

A teen’s risk for suicide varies with age, gender, and cultural and social influences. Risk factors may change over time. They are:

  • One or more mental or substance abuse problems
  • Impulsive behaviors
  • Undesirable life events or recent losses, such as the death of a parent
  • Family history of mental or substance abuse problems
  • Family history of suicide
  • Family violence, including physical, sexual, or verbal or emotional abuse
  • Past suicide attempt
  • Gun in the home
  • Imprisonment
  • Exposure to the suicidal behavior of others, such as from family or peers, in the news, or in fiction stories

What are the warning signs of teen suicide?

Many of the warning signs of suicide are also symptoms of depression. They are:

  • Changes in eating and sleeping habits
  • Loss of interest in usual activities
  • Withdrawal from friends and family members
  • Acting-out behaviors and running away
  • Alcohol and drug use
  • Neglecting one’s personal appearance
  • Unnecessary risk-taking
  • Obsession with death and dying
  • More physical complaints often linked to emotional distress, such as stomachaches, headaches, and extreme tiredness (fatigue)
  • Loss of interest in school or schoolwork
  • Feeling bored
  • Problems focusing
  • Feeling he or she wants to die
  • Lack of response to praise

Another warning sign is making plans or efforts toward committing suicide:

  • Says “I want to kill myself,” or “I'm going to commit suicide.”
  • Gives verbal hints, such as “I won't be a problem much longer,” or “If anything happens to me, I want you to know ....”
  • Gives away favorite possessions or throws away important belongings
  • Becomes suddenly cheerful after a period of depression
  • May express weird thoughts
  • Writes 1 or more suicide notes

These signs may look like other health problems. Make sure your teen sees his or her healthcare provider for a diagnosis.

How is a teen diagnosed as being suicidal?

Threats of suicide are a cry for help. Always take such statements, thoughts, behaviors, or plans very seriously. Any teen who expresses thoughts of suicide should be evaluated right away. Talk with your teen’s healthcare provider.

Any teen who has tried to commit suicide needs a physical checkup first to rule out life-threatening health problems. He or she should then get a mental health evaluation and treatment until he or she is stable. This often will take place at an inpatient facility to make sure of the child’s safety.

How is a teen treated for suicidal behavior?

Treatment will depend on your child’s symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is.

Treatment starts with a detailed evaluation of events in your teen’s life during the 2 to 3 days before the suicidal behaviors. Treatment may include:

  • Individual therapy
  • Family therapy. Parents play a vital role in treatment.
  • An extended hospital stay, if needed. This gives the child a supervised and safe environment.

How can I help prevent my teen from attempting suicide?

Learning the warning signs of teen suicide can prevent an attempt. Keeping open communication with your teen and his or her friends gives you an opportunity to help when needed. Also take these steps:

  • Keep medicines and guns away from children and teens.
  • Get your teen help for any mental or substance abuse problems.
  • Support your teen. Listen, try not to offer undue criticism, and stay connected.
  • Become informed about teen suicide. Resources include the public library, local support group, and the Internet.
  • Know the warning signs for depression:
    • Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or loneliness
    • Declining school performance
    • Loss of interest in social and sports activities
    • Sleeping too little or too much
    • Changes in weight or appetite
    • Nervousness, agitation, or irritability

Teens can take these steps to help prevent suicide if they see warning signs in a friend:

  • Take their friend’s behavior and talk of suicide seriously.
  • Encourage their friend to seek expert help. Go with the friend, if needed.
  • Talk with an adult they trust about their friend.

When should I call my teen’s healthcare provider?

Call your teen’s healthcare provider right away if your teen:

  • Feels extreme depression, fear, anxiety, or anger toward him or herself or others
  • Feels out of control
  • Hears voices that others don’t hear
  • Sees things that others don’t see
  • Can’t sleep or eat for 3 days in a row
  • Shows behavior that concerns friends, family, or teachers, and others express concern about this behavior and ask you to seek help

Call 911 if your teen has suicidal thoughts, a suicide plan, and the means to carry out the plan.

Key points about teen suicide

  • Suicide is when a teen causes his or her own death on purpose.
  • Suicidal ideation is when a teen has thoughts of wanting to die.
  • Suicidal behavior is when a teen is focused on doing things that cause his or her own death.
  • Normal developmental changes combined with stressful life events may cause a teen to think about suicide.
  • Many of the warning signs of suicide are also symptoms of depression.
  • Any teen who expresses suicidal thoughts should be evaluated right away.

Next steps

Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your child’s healthcare provider:

  • Know the reason for the visit and what you want to happen.
  • Before your visit, write down questions you want answered.
  • At the visit, write down the name of a new diagnosis, and any new medicines, treatments, or tests. Also write down any new instructions your provider gives you for your child.
  • Know why a new medicine or treatment is prescribed and how it will help your child. Also know what the side effects are.
  • Ask if your child’s condition can be treated in other ways.
  • Know why a test or procedure is recommended and what the results could mean.
  • Know what to expect if your child does not take the medicine or have the test or procedure.
  • If your child has a follow-up appointment, write down the date, time, and purpose for that visit.
  • Know how you can contact your child’s provider after office hours. This is important if your child becomes ill and you have questions or need advice.

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Questions to a psychologist

Ask a psychologist a question

Author: Alena

01/27/2023 09:29


Hello, my name is Alena, I'm very confused, I don't know what to do. I want to commit suicide, I see no other way. I want it to be over. I'm tired of the humiliation with the construction of parents of society.


Answer: Service Consultant

01/27/2023 10:30

Hello Alena. You feel confused and unable to find a way out of a difficult situation. Such a condition can be both a consequence of the occurrence of life difficulties, and a sign of excessive stress, and a sign of a mental disorder.

Now you are overwhelmed with heavy feelings, thoughts, and you simply need to express them to another person, but only to one who is ready to listen and hear you. When a person is in a gloomy state of mind, it is really, very difficult for him to objectively assess the problem situation, his capabilities, solutions, see his life perspective, and of course, in this situation, a professional view from the outside is very important. Be sure to find an opportunity to call the psychological emergency number 8(495) 989-50-50. Say everything that worries you, what hurts your heart. They will listen to you and provide possible support and assistance.

You do not give enough information about yourself and your problem so that I can draw some conclusions and give certain recommendations. And the rubric Questions for a psychologist does not involve a dialogue, during which it would be possible to find out all the circumstances of what happened and outline ways to solve problems. I suggest you open a topic in your Personal Account or call the psychological help phone and get it from a specialist psychologist. nine0069

If you need psychological support right now, call our center - it works around the clock, anonymously and free of charge (from a landline phone).

Best regards, Stanislav.

Author: Kolya

01/27/2023 00:06

I want to end my life

I want to kill myself. I hate my relatives. With this act, I first of all want to hurt them. and finally save yourself from suffering


Answer: Service Consultant

01/27/2023 01:08

Hello Kolya.

You are in a crisis. It so happened that today you do not see for yourself the opportunity to find any help - there are no relatives who could support, on the contrary, you want to take revenge on them and hurt them.

Kolya, I don't know what happened to you. But obviously it hurts you. Pain that is difficult to manage. And there are suicidal thoughts. nine0005

Your letter, which you wanted to write today, sounds more like a challenge than a cry for help. But one gets the feeling that there is hope in him - that they will listen to you, hear you, and offer a solution that will differ from the one you made. I sincerely hope so. Therefore, I ask you to call our Hotline (or other helpline). A psychologist can now become the one who will help expand the vision of the situation, see other ways out.

Let me help you, don't put off your call! nine0005

Best regards, Natalia. Vienna how long does it take for a person to die if a vein in the wrist is opened, or an artery in the neck is opened? I would like it urgently. Ahhh


Reply: Service Consultant

01/27/2023 07:29


In your short message, you do not give information about what is happening and what difficulties you have encountered. I assume that something is happening in your life, as a result of which you are thinking about suicide. Unfortunately, you didn't write about it. nine0005

Please call our Hotline. Together we can look at your situation and try to answer the question of how to deal with what hurts. We will focus on what will allow us to expand the vision of the situation and discover opportunities for solving difficulties. Please do not delay your call.

Best regards, Julia P.

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Questions to the psychologist - Psychological service


I'm a girl, I'm 19 years old, not so long ago I moved and entered the university. And from that moment I am depressed, I have no more strength, I hate myself, I roar every day for half a year, problems with my studies, with my family, with myself. I am losing my future. I myself aggravate the situation with my studies, although I really like to study, I just don’t have the strength for it. I adore my family, but my father is a fanatic who tries to exalt himself every time and it takes me out, my mother constantly crawls under the skin and tries to show that she knows everything, but in reality it is not. My family does not support me, they only accuse me that I am stupid, that I myself came up with that it is bad for me, so that they pay attention to me. I stopped communicating with everyone, I don’t need anyone, I no longer have friends. I live with my sister, whom I have to follow like a child, because at 18 she doesn’t know how to do it any other way. I have to take care of her every day, but she doesn’t even go to the pharmacy when I feel bad, because she’s too lazy. My health is also so-so, I have asthma, heart disease, rhinitis, kidney problems, allergies to everything and much more. I no longer have interest in life, every year it gets worse and worse. I concluded that as soon as my adolescence (11 years) began, it was no longer good, at first the first non-reciprocal love, 5 years of torment, 2 rapes, constant betrayal by partners, it was even such that I almost got married half a year ago, but I was betrayed, no interest in other people, my family rejects me, no friends, no one needs me. Now I'm dating a guy out of pity, I can't leave him, even though we constantly swear. Ege really knocked me down, it seemed to me better to die, but not to be in this state. I hate cleaning, but I'm obsessed with it, I'm worried, even dust. I am very anxious, I constantly check if the door is closed, if the gas is turned off, plus everything, I cannot do anything if the time on the clock is not even. I think I have an eating disorder, I used to be obsessed with weight, I used to even sit on diuretics until I started to faint all the time. I have two states, all bad or even worse, I'm a perfectionist. I don't want to die, but I constantly think about suicide. I have also had suicidal thoughts for 7 years, I even cut my hand with a blade, put out cigarettes about myself, tried to inject air into a vein about 5 years ago, but never completed the job, I went to a psychologist 2 years ago, but did not open up, even by 30 percent, now I'm thinking of going to a psychiatrist. What will you advice me? nine0005

Answer: Service Counselor

25.01.2023 14:51

Suicidal thoughts and intentions, anxiety, fears

Hello Annette!

You describe a serious condition that requires attention and a competent approach. Here, past traumatic experiences, and stress in studies, communication, life, and some disturbing symptoms, such as suicidal thoughts, obsessive actions, impotence, self-condemning and humiliating thoughts - all this is not easily tolerated and, as you rightly noted, deprives you of everything that you have both the present and the future. However, any condition can be adjusted so that it becomes easier. Here I want to support your decision to go to see a psychiatrist.

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