If your adolescent child, family member, friend, or student were considering suicide, would you recognize the warning signs? If so, what would you do?

Adolescence is a time of hope and expectancy, as well as extreme disappointment and mood swings. It’s normal for teens to experience stress, confusion, and self-doubt. In addition to normal physical, hormonal, and emotional changes, teens confront many of the these additional challenges:

  • Academic pressures and overburdened school systems
  • Social demands to find acceptance among peers, to be attractive, or to date
  • Divorce, single-parent homes, or other instability in the home, such as abuse or violence
  • Body image issues, which may fuel eating disorders
  • Negative peer pressure or bullying
  • Exposure to violence outside the home, alcohol, and drugs
  • Poverty
  • Confusion and shame about sexual identity or orientation

Teens may have fleeting thoughts or fantasies about suicide from time-to-time when they are struggling. But most do not make a suicide attempt or gesture. However, when the pressure seems too great, a teen may feel an overwhelming sense of helplessness, which can lead to serious thoughts of suicide.

How do you know when a teen is really in need of help?