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Teen Suicide: What Parents Need to Know.

Author: Ivelisse Ginorio Master's Student at Ana G. Mendez University Online English

Teenagers are often told that they have all their lives ahead of them. The idea that a teenager might think of ending that life can be hard to believe for friends, family, or others in your community. However, “the risk of suicide should be on the radar of anyone interacting with teenagers,” says Dr. Jane Pearson, NIH mental health expert.

The suicide rate among adolescents has increased in the last decade. Suicide is now the second leading cause of death among adolescents and young adults in the United States.

Experts do not know why this rate has increased. However, NIH-funded researchers are working on better ways to find and help teens who are thinking about suicide. “There are some very effective treatments for young suicides,” Pearson explains. “We’re trying to figure out how to make those treatments more accessible to more young people.”.

What makes teens vulnerable to suicide?

Teenagers experience strong feelings of stress, confusion, self-doubt, pressure to succeed, financial uncertainty, and other fears as they grow. For some teenagers, divorce, the formation of a new family with stepparents and stepsisters, or moving to other new communities can disturb them and intensify doubts about themselves. For some teens, suicide appears to be a solution to their problems and stress.

Depression and suicidal tendencies are mental disorders that can be treated. The presence of these conditions must be recognized and diagnosed in both children and adolescents and an appropriate treatment plan developed. When there is doubt in parents that the child or young person may have a serious problem, a psychiatric examination may be of great help.

What are the risk factors for teen suicide?

A teen may feel suicidal due to certain life circumstances such as: Having a psychiatric disorder, such as depression, an anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, or oppositional defiant disorder, a family history of mood disorder, suicide, or suicidal behavior, a history of physical or sexual abuse, or exposure to violence or harassment, a substance use disorder, access to media, such as firearms or medication, the suicide of a family member or friend, loss or conflict involving friends or close relatives, physical or medical problems, such as changes related to puberty or chronic illness, being lesbian, gay, bisexual or any other sexual reduction, being adopted, children who have attempted suicide in the past are at greater risk. In the United States, suicide attempts are more common in adolescent girls than in boys. But boys are more likely to fail by suicide than girls.

What are the warning signs that a teen may be suicidal?

Warning signs of teen suicide may include the following: Talking or writing about suicide, for example, making statements like "I'm going to kill myself" or "I'm going to stop being a problem for you" isolating yourself and avoiding social contact, having mood swings, increasing use of illicit drugs or alcohol, feeling trapped, hopeless, or hopeless because of a situation, changing your normal routine, including eating and sleeping habits, acting in a risky or self-destructive, giving away belongings when there is no other logical explanation for why this is being done, having personality changes, or becoming extremely anxious or restless when any of the above warning signs occur Risk factors for suicide vary with age, gender, cultural and social influences, and can change over time Risk factors for suicide are often and combined.

The following are some risk factors for suicide that may be present:

  • One or more diagnosable mental or substance use disorders and impulsive behaviors.

  • Undesirable life events or recent losses (for example, parental death or divorce).

  • Family history of mental disorders or substance abuse family history of suicide.

  • Family violence, including physical, sexual, verbal, or emotional abuse.

Other risk factors for teen suicide include:

  • History of deliberate self-harm

  • A history of neglect or abuse

  • Living in communities where there have been recent outbreaks of suicide among young people.

  • Sentimental break

Prevention and Control The most effective way to prevent suicide and suicidal behavior is early recognition and intervention of mental and substance abuse disorders. Studies have shown that the suicide prevention programs most likely to be successful are those that focus on the identification and treatment of mental illness and substance abuse, stress management, and control of aggressive behaviors.

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, it's important to learn the signs of teen suicide to avoid an attempt. Maintaining open communication with your teen and their friends provides an opportunity to help as needed. If a teen talks about suicide, they should receive an immediate evaluation.

You can take steps to help protect your teen. For example: Talk about mental health and suicide. Don't wait for your teenager to come to you. If your teen is sad, anxious, depressed, or seems in trouble, ask what's wrong and offer your support. Pay attention. If your teen is thinking about committing suicide, they are likely to show warning signs. Listen to what he says and watch how he behaves. Never ignore suicide threats like a teen melodrama. Discourages isolation. Encourage your teen to spend time with supportive friends and family. Monitor and discuss the use of social media. Keep an eye on your child's social media accounts. While social media can offer teens valuable support, it can also expose them to bullying, the spread of rumors, unrealistic views of other people's lives, and peer pressure. If your teen feels hurt or upset by social media posts or messages, encourage them to talk to you or a trusted teacher. Feeling connected and supported at school can have a strong protective effect. Promotes a healthy lifestyle. Help your teen eat well, exercise, and sleep regularly. And finally, the importance of supporting the treatment plan.


  1. American Psychiatric Association website. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 5th ed. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing. 2013.

  2. Brendel RW, Brezing CA, Lagomasino IT, Perlis RH, Stern TA. The suicidal patient. In: Stern TA, Fava M, Wilens TE, Rosenbaum JF, eds. Massachusetts General Hospital Comprehensive Clinical Psychiatry. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016: chap 53.

  3. El Suicidio en los Adolescentes (

  4. Suicidio en adolescentes: Comprender el riesgo y obtener ayuda | Los Institutos Nacionales de Salud (

  5. Suicidio en adolescentes: Lo que deben saber los padres - Mayo Clinic

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  7. Teen Suicide (

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