The teen years can be some of the best times of a person’s life, but they can also hold some of the biggest challenges. Now that social media and smartphones have entered everyday life, it’s easier than ever for kids to stay connected, but that comes with its own set of issues: namely, the fact that everything can be filmed, documented, and shared to the world with the swipe of a finger, and it can largely be done anonymously. With all the pressures of school, work, peers, and family issues, some teens can have a hard time coping, especially if substance abuse is involved. That swirl of emotions can quickly lead to depression or even suicidal thoughts.
It’s important to try and maintain open communication with your teen, as difficult as that may be at times. Knowing who your child is spending time with and where, as well as what their interests are and how they’re doing in school, is imperative if you are going to keep an honest relationship. When behavioral changes make communication difficult, there are other ways you can make sure your child is safe. Here are some of the warning signs to look out for in your teen where depression and suicidal thoughts are concerned.
According to the CDC, 1 in 12 teens in the U.S. have attempted suicide, with close to 5,000 deaths each year. This very real problem has a number of causes, so it’s important to know what to look for in your child. Sudden behavioral issues where there were none before, lashing out at loved ones, sleeping too much or too little, and engaging in risky behavior, such as substance abuse, are all signs that your teen is going through something.
If you’re worried that starting a conversation with your child will come across as confrontational, simply let them know that you’re there for them and that they won’t be judged or shamed if they decide to talk to you. You can also look into local teen groups and after-school activities with your teen; keeping them active and engaged outside of school can help tremendously when it comes to many issues.
Social media worries
It’s difficult to keep a watchful eye on your child’s online activities, not least because no teen wants to feel like their parents are checking up on them. However, it’s a good idea to stay informed about what sites they use often, which apps they have on their phone, and who they may be talking to. Sometimes, social media is the perfect outlet for a bully who wants to remain anonymous. Let your child know that they don’t have to put up with bullying or engage in arguments online. It’s also a good idea to teach your child that anything that goes up on the Internet could stay there forever, including photos, videos, and comments made under a screen name.
There are so many factors that go with suicide or suicidal thoughts, and just because a person is exhibiting some of these signs doesn’t mean they are considering harming themselves. However, there are things you can look for that could be signals that your teen needs help. These include:
● A history of mental or mood disorders, such as depression
● Alcohol or drug abuse
● Talking about feeling hopeless or aimless
● Talking about--or displaying themes in artwork or writing--suicide
● Withdrawing from friends and family
● Engaging in reckless behavior, including having legal troubles
● Experiencing extremely stressful or embarrassing situations
● Changing sleep and eating habits
● Medical or health issues
● Coming to terms with their sexuality
There are many ways to help your loved one if you feel they are at risk for self-harm, including seeking therapy or the help of a trusted healthcare provider, contacting a suicide hotline, and simply listening.
Steve Johnson has always been dedicated to promoting health and wellness in all aspects of life. Studying in the medical field has shown him how important it is for reputable health-related facts, figures, tips, and other guidance to be readily available to the public. He created PublicHealthLibrary.org with a fellow student to act as a resource for people’s overall health inquiries and as an accurate and extensive source of health information. When he isn’t hard at work in his studies, Steve enjoys playing tennis and listening to his vintage record collection.