Any discussion about preventing suicide has to include identifying the symptoms of depression, so that adults and parents and teachers can identify a depressed teenager. Gay LGBTQ youth are two to three times more likely to attempt suicide than other young people.
Be an active listener when you speak with your child. Casually observe the moods, and behavioral patterns, that your child exhibits. If your child shares with you how they feel, don’t lecture them or tell them their feelings are wrong. Be a parent, not a best friend, and maintain an open and loving heart and mind when you’re talking about sensitive issues.
Facts About Teen Depression
- Depression begins in adolescence: average depression onset age is 14 years.
- Teen depression is common: by the end of their teen years, 20% will have had depression.
- Depression is treatable: more than 70% of teens improve with a combination of medication and therapy.
- 80% of teens with depression don’t receive help.
- Untreated depression has serious consequences. It can lead to:
Substance abuse (24% to 50%).
Bullying (30% for those bullied, 19% for those doing the bullying).
Other disorders (e.g. Eating disorder).
Suicide (the 3rd leading cause of death among 10 to 24 year olds).
Symptoms Of Depression
- Feelings of sadness for much of the time
- Indifference about the future
- Uncharacteristic pessimism
- Guilty feelings
- Lowering self-esteem
- Suicidal thoughts
- An irritable, sad, empty or cranky mood and belief that life is meaningless.
- Loss of interest in sports or activities they used to enjoy, withdrawal from friends and family, pervasive trouble in relationships.
- Changes in appetite, significant weight gain or loss.
- Excessive late-night activities, too much or too little sleep, trouble getting up in the morning, often late for school.
- Physical agitation or slowness, pacing back and forth and/or excessive, or repetitive behaviors.
- Loss of energy, social withdrawal, withdrawal from usual activities, or boredom.
- Making critical comments about themselves, behavior problems at school or at home, overly sensitive to rejection.
- Poor performance in school, a drop in grades, or frequent absences.
- Frequent complaints of physical pain (headaches, stomach), frequent visits to school nurse.
- Writing about death, giving away favorite belongings, comments like “You’d be better off without me.”
If you recognise any of these symptoms in your teenager, please contact your family doctor.
The Trevor Project Lifeline for teens is staffed 24/7, and if you or someone you know is depressed or contemplating suicide, call 866-488-7386.
TeenLine online is operated by teens for teens, and teenagers can call them at 800-852-8336, or find them online by clicking here.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number is 1-800-273-8255.
I consulted the “Families for Depression Awareness” website, the PsychCentral website, and the Teen Help website, for research and information.
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