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“Suicide is not chosen; it happens
when pain exceeds
resources for coping with pain.”


Parents should be aware of the following signs of adolescents who may try to kill themselves:
• change in eating and sleeping habits
• withdrawal from friends, family, and regular activities
• violent actions, rebellious behavior, or running away
• drug and alcohol use
• unusual neglect of personal appearance
• marked personality change
• persistent boredom, difficulty concentrating, or a decline in the quality of schoolwork
• frequent complaints about physical symptoms, often related to emotions, such as stomachaches, headaches, fatigue, etc.
• loss of interest in pleasurable activities
• not tolerating praise or rewards

Warning Sign
There are often signs that someone may be thinking about or planning a suicide attempt. Here are some of them:
• talking about suicide or death in general
• talking about “going away”
• referring to things they “won’t be needing,” and giving away possessions
• talking about feeling hopeless or feeling guilty
• pulling away from friends or family and losing the desire to go out
• having no desire to take part in favorite things or activities
• having trouble concentrating or thinking clearly
• experiencing changes in eating or sleeping habits
• engaging in self-destructive behavior (drinking alcohol, taking drugs, or cutting, for example)

Coping With Problems
Being a teen is not easy. There are many new social, academic, and personal pressures. And for teens who have additional problems to deal with, such as living in violent or abusive environments, life can feel even more difficult.

Some teens worry about sexuality and relationships, wondering if their feelings and attractions are normal, or if they will be loved and accepted. Others struggle with body image and eating problems; trying to reach an impossible ideal leaves them feeling bad about themselves. Some teens have learning problems or attention problems that make it hard for them to succeed in school. They may feel disappointed in themselves or feel they are a disappointment to others.
These problems can be difficult and draining — and can lead to depression if they go on too long without relief or support. We all struggle with painful problems and events at times. How do people get through it without becoming depressed? Part of it is staying connected to family, friends, school, faith, and other support networks. People are better able to deal with tough circumstances when they have at least one person who believes in them, wants the best for them, and in whom they can confide. People also cope better when they keep in mind that most problems are temporary and can be overcome.
When struggling with problems, it helps to:
• Tell someone you trust what’s going on with you.
• Be around people who are caring and positive.
• Ask someone to help you figure out what to do about a problem you’re facing.
• Work with a therapist or counselor if problems are getting you down and depressed — or if you don’t have a strong support network, or feel you can’t cope.
Counselors and therapists can provide emotional support and can help teens build their own coping skills for dealing with problems. It can also help to join a support network for people who are going through the same problems — for example, anorexia and body image issues, living with an alcoholic family member, or sexuality and sexual health concerns. These groups can help provide a caring environment where you can talk through problems with people who share your concerns. Check out your phone book to find local support groups, or ask a school counselor or a youth group leader to help you find what you need.

A teenager who is planning to commit suicide may also:
• complain of being a bad person or feeling rotten inside
• give verbal hints with statements such as: I won’t be a problem for you much longer, Nothing matters, It’s no use, and I won’t see you again
• put his or her affairs in order, for example, give away favorite possessions, clean his or her room, throw away important belongings, etc.
• become suddenly cheerful after a period of depression
• have signs of psychosis (hallucinations or bizarre thoughts)
If a child or adolescent says, I want to kill myself, or I’m going to commit suicide, always take the statement seriously and immediately seek assistance from a qualified mental health professional. People often feel uncomfortable talking about death. However, asking the child or adolescent whether he or she is depressed or thinking about suicide can be helpful. Rather than putting thoughts in the child’s head, such a question will provide assurance that somebody cares and will give the young person the chance to talk about problems.
If one or more of these signs occurs, parents need to talk to their child about their concerns and seek professional help when the concerns persist. With support from family and professional treatment, children and teenagers who are suicidal can heal and return to a more healthy path of development.