Adolescent Suicide: What Do We Need To Know?

With adolescents facing increasing levels of social and emotional pressures, a greater focus has been placed on the occurrence of suicide in the adolescent population. There has been a search to try to understand what would cause a young person to make such a permanent decision. While there is no single answer that will explain every situation, listed below are a few of the risk factors that research has found to be associated with suicide attempts in adolescents:

*Mental health or substance abuse disorders

*Challenging life events

*Impulsive behaviors

*Family history of mental health or substance use disorders

*Feelings that they are trapped in a situation that they cannot get out of

*Feelings of hopelessness

*Prior suicide attempts

*Having a family member that has attempted or died by suicide

Research has also shown that it is rarely one single factor that brings about the idea of suicide, but rather a group of coexisting factors.

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), 1 suicide occurs every 12.3 minutes within the US. In 2016, the state of North Carolina exceeded the national suicide rate for both males and females, across all ages.

According to the Center of Disease Control (CDC), in 2014, 5,504 deaths were reported by suicide, making it the second leading cause of death amongst the 10-24 age cohort.

Between 2008-2014 the CDC reported that North Carolina male suicide rates were below those of Onslow County. In comparing female suicide rates, female suicide rates in Onslow County were much lower than the state average between 2008-2014. Onslow County rates were so few (below 20) that they were not charted.

If you notice your adolescent acting out of the ordinary for a few days, it is imperative that you pay close attention. According to the American Society for the Positive Care of Children (ASPCC), 4 out of 5 completed suicides gave warning signs.

Serious risk:

*Talk: Speak of feeling trapped, Express feelings of being burdensome, Expressing unbearable pain, Speaking of seeking revenge

*Behavior: Demonstration of increased drug use, Demonstrating acts of aggression/anxiousness/agitation, Extreme sleep or lack of sleep, Isolating themselves from family/friends, withdrawing from activities

Immediate risk:

*Talk: Expressing the desire to die or take ones life, Feeling of hopelessness, Saying they have no reason to live

*Behavior: Looking for ways to kill oneself, Saying goodbye, Giving away possessions

**Please note that this list is not meant to be comprehensive, instead just a few warning signs to look for**

Do's and Dont's

*Do pay attention to changes in your child's behavior

*Communicate with them and listen to what your child is saying verbally as well as non-verbally

*Remain calm

*Talk about suicide

*Do not think that this could never happen to your child or your family

*Do not allow your adolescent to isolate themselves; they are not alone

*Do Seek Help


Please know that you do not have to face this alone. If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide please reach out and talk to someone. Listed below are some resources that provide information or assistance:

National: National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-8255

Local: Integrated Family Services Mobile Crisis Team 1-866-437-1821

Jessica Meyer, MS Clinical Counseling

Twila Johnson, MSW Intern

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