A Parent’s Guide to Teen Depression and Suicide

The statistics on teen suicide are staggering. According to the Centers for Disease Control, each year, an average of 8% of American teens will attempt suicide. This makes suicide the second leading cause of death for kids aged 10 to 24. In fact, it is believed that more teenagers die from suicide than from cancer, pneumonia, birth defects, AIDS, influenza and heart disease combined.

Studies have found that teens who have presented with a mood disorder or who abuse drugs are at the greatest risk of attempting suicide. While research suggests girls attempt suicide more often, boys more often die from it.

Unfortunately, there is still much stigma surrounding depression and suicide, and so often these kids keep their emotional pain to themselves.

What can parents of teenagers do to keep their children safe and healthy?

close-up-photography-of-a-teen-suicideDon't be Afraid to Speak with Your Kid:

Many parents believe that trying to speak with their kids about their moods and feelings will only push them farther away. This is a dangerous misconception. In reality, teenagers need to know they are safe, loved and cared for.

You may want to begin your conversation by asking general questions about what’s going on in their life. When the time feels right, you can ask if they have ever had thoughts of self-harm. If their answer alarms you, ask specifically if they are planning on or intending to harm themselves.

Validate Their Feelings of Suicide and Depression:

Once you’ve begun this sensitive dialogue with your teen, it’s important to actively listen and validate their feelings. Your kid must really believe you are a) hearing what they’re telling you and b) recognizing the importance of it. Try and listen without judgement. This will help your child relax and open up, thereby giving you an opportunity to learn even more about their inner emotional life.

Clarify the Situation for Understanding:woman-kissing-cheek-of-girl-talking-depression-suicide

If your teen confides they are having thoughts of suicide, it’s incredibly important that you remain calm and ask questions that will help you clarify the situation. You will want to determine if they are mentioning suicide because they:

  • Want to tell you just how bad they are feeling.
  • Alert you to something they need but are not getting.
  • Need to vocalize their desire to stop feeling so many emotions.
  • Have actually planned how and when they will take their life.

Seek Professional Guidance for Suicide and Depression:

African American Father hugs his daughters on the beach recovering from depression and suicideAny talk of suicide is a serious matter and requires professional guidance by a trained therapist. It’s important not to force your teen into any treatment plan, but instead, allow them to help direct the course of their plan. Some of their depression might stem from an overall lack of control they feel they have in their own life, so it’s important you let them have a voice in the direction of treatment. You may also find that you will want to speak with someone through this difficult time.

Suicide Hotline:

If you or your child is currently in crisis and need help with the issue of teen depression and suicide, please contact the National Suicide Hotlineor call, (800) 273-8255.Therapist and parent of gifted student hold hands during depression and suicide therapy session in Arcadia, CA  

Contact Abby:

Helping families feel connected is at the core of my Family Therapy practice. Should you feel like your family might benefit from family counseling to increase your family connections and decrease family conflicts with a challenging and/or gifted child in the home, you have come to the right place! I also offer individual therapy to parents of challenging and/or gifted children, online, or in my office in Arcadia. Contact me via email, or give me a call at (626) 755-4059 for a FREE 20-minute, Initial Phone Consultation. For family therapy, I meet alone with parents in my Arcadia office for the first session. I want there to be a good fit between us, before you introduce me to your children. In-Home Family Therapy (Home-Based Family Counseling) is an option to families living in Pasadena, Glendale and Arcadia, California, as well as the Smiling female therapist in a blue top sitting at a wooden dining table promoting her options for Family Therapy in Client's Homesurrounding areas of the San Gabriel Valley. I have completed training from SENG (Supporting the Emotional Needs of the Gifted) and am a certified SENG Parent Support Group Facilitator. You will find my professional listing with SENG here. Please feel free to find out more about me on my Family Trauma Therapy page. You can also explore my CredentialsServices, and Rates.  LGBTQIA+ affirming therapy is a core value of my practice. My style shines through on my blog pagewhere I write about various topics affecting families with challenging children. Let's connect!