There’s absolutely nothing more frightening to a parent than the thought of losing a child. Even bringing up the topic can make a parent get weak in the knees. Every May is Mental Health Month – a time when we, as a country, focus on the mental health issues that many of us are facing every day. In this post, we’re going to focus on teens and suicide. It’s an uncomfortable subject, but with knowledge comes power and we want to have all the knowledge to keep our teens safe.
Suicidal thoughts can begin during the teen years when adolescents feel overwhelmed. During these years, teens go through hormonal changes which causes major mood swings. Add to that hardships they face in school, bullying, peer pressure, perhaps a change in living arrangements, divorce, and other hefty situations and teens can become bogged down, feeling there is no way out. At this age, teens do not have strong decision-making skills. They often don’t see the whole picture. The things we know will pass seem like the end of the world for teens. It’s a very rough time in one’s life and some see suicide as the answer to their problems. It’s our jobs as parents to show them that suicide isn’t the answer and to get them the help that they need.
How do you know if your teen is showing signs of having suicidal thoughts versus a teen that is dealing with normal teenage “stuff?” Here are some signs to look out for:
- Behaviors that are impulsive
- Mental or substance abuse disorders that have been diagnosed
- Negative life events such as a divorce or death of close loved one
- Abuse of any kind
- Family history of mental disorders or suicidal tendencies
- Change in routine (i.e. eating and sleeping habits change, loss of interest in activities they once enjoyed)
- Running away
- Picking up bad behaviors such as drugs, alcohol, or other risky behaviors
- Grades start suffering
If your teen starts overtly saying they want to die or kill themselves, or if they show any of the warning signs above, the time to seek help is now. Don’t blow off these threats or take them lightly. It’s best to reach out to your child’s doctor to get them evaluated right away. Your teen’s doctor has been trained to evaluate these types of situations and recommend the best course of action.
The care your teen receives after evaluation will vary but it may require being admitted to an inpatient facility. Treatment may also include therapy for the teen or your whole family, depending on the evaluation. If you think your teen has suicidal tendencies, it’s best to have them in therapy before it gets to the level where immediate action has to be taken in order to prevent a suicide or a suicide attempt. If you need help right now, call the National Suicide Prevention hotline at 1-800-273-8255.
Parenting is hard, very hard. The teen years can throw you all kinds of curve balls and just when you think you have this parenting thing down, the wind blows, and they change course on you. Trying to stay on top of everything can be quite challenging but the rewards are worth it.
If you have a teen that has been struggling in school, let them know that you are there for them and you have found another way for them to get their education. Take some of their pressure off. As a virtual student at My Virtual Academy, each student gets to learn at their own pace. They can do their lessons at times that are convenient for them, from the comfort of their own home. School shouldn’t have to be a source of stress for our children. Let them thrive at My Virtual Academy and get the credits they need to earn their high school diploma. Visit our website to learn more or give us a call at 800.297.2119.