Common Teenage Suicide Warning Signs

teenage suicide warning signs

Awhile back I talked about the symptoms our son Bud had that led to us finally realizing that he needed emotional help (that story can be found here).

Suffice it to say that one day Bud texted me from school saying, “I might as well kill myself.”  Art and I read that as a suicide threat, so we immediately called the school and took action to make sure Bud was protected.  Later, Bud asked me why we made such a big deal.  “I wasn’t going to kill myself,” he told me.  “I just said I might as well since nothing was going right.”  Huh?  Is that teenage logic?  How am I, as a parent, supposed to know the difference?  Is there a difference?

According to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry:

When a child makes a serious threat it should not be dismissed as just idle talk. Parents, teachers, or other adults should immediately talk with the child. If it is determined that the child is at risk and the child refuses to talk, is argumentative, responds defensively, or continues to express violent or dangerous thoughts or plans, arrangements should be made for an immediate evaluation by a mental health professional with experience evaluating children and adolescents. – AACAP

teenage suicide warning signsIn retrospect, now more than 3 1/2 years later, I believe we did the right thing.  After we called the school, the vice-principal and Bud’s counselor immediately pulled Bud out of class and kept him in a quiet room until we got there.  Bud felt that the treatment was harsh, but I know that the school was looking out for his safety, even if “bedside manners” were not the best.  In addition, if this incident had not occurred, we might never have realized the extent of Bud’s insomnia or depression and he would not have received the help he so badly needed.  I would encourage you, even if your child is a “drama king” to take any threat of harm seriously.

Since I originally wrote this post three years ago, we have had a few more cries for help from Bud, which called for medication adjustments, and therapy or lifestyle changes.  Below is a list of some common warning signs for teenage (and young adult) suicide from Naami.org:

  • Prior Suicide Attempts
  • Talking About or Threatening Suicide
  • Making a Plan
  • Giving Away Prized Possessions
  • Preoccupation with Death
  • Signs of Depression, Hopelessness, Anxiety
  • Increased Drug and/or Alcohol Use

If you notice any of these signs in someone you care about, please, at the very least start a dialogue with that person, or if possible, seek professional help.

For more information, you can visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

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Emotions! Making Sense of Your Feelings Book Review

Title: Emotions!: Making Sense of Your  Feelings

Author: Mary Lamia, PhD

Genre: Teens Social Issues

Publisher: Magination Press

Release Date: August 2012

Format: Kindle/Paperback

Pages: 146 pages

About the Book:

Emotions are a powerful and extraordinary part of being human. Your emotions serve as an instant cueing system to inform you about situations and motivate you to take action.  Anxiety can sharpen your focus and direct your attention.  Pride can lead you to take on something new and challenging.  Guilt can motivate you to correct situations that interfere with your relationships.  All of your emotions are valuable - they inform you, affect the decisions you make, and can motivate you to reach your goals.

Emotions! Making Sense of Your Feelings will help you gain powerful insight into a significant part of who you are.  While your emotional life may feel tumultuous, your emotions are priceless.  It's time to figure out just what your emotions are telling you!

My Review:

I first discovered Dr. Mary Lamia while I was doing research for what I thought was going to be a book on bullying.  Honestly, I believe I googled the phrase "bullying expert" and sent emails to about five different people.  Dr. Lamia was one of the three who was gracious enough to respond.  She was more than gracious to answer my questions on the motivations behind bullying and even offered to send me a copy of her upcoming book. I was pleasantly surprised when Emotions!: Making Sense of Your Feelings arrived in my mailbox.

My son, Bud, has struggled with anxiety and depression for many years (see Bud's Black Days, I Couldn't Sleep At All Last Night).  Recently, through the right mix of medication and learning how to deal appropriately with his emotions, he has grown into an enjoyable and responsible young man. I wish that Dr. Lamia's book had been available when Bud was first diagnosed.  It might have helped us all make it through the process more easily.

One of the best things about this book is it is a really remarkable reference that you can keep in your library for your teenagers, young adults (even you, yourself) to go to anytime they are unsure of what they are feeling.  Dr. Lamia writes in the introduction:

You don't necessarily have to read this book cover to cover.  Depending on what you're experiencing, you can choose a chapter that resonates with you.

There's a chapter for each emotion. Included are:

Anxiety

Embarrassment

Loneliness

Guilt

Sadness

Disgust

Interest

Fear

Pride

Shame

Hope

Anger

Envy

Happiness

Each chapter includes:

  1. a definition and real life example of the emotion, backed by research studies
    anxiety over a big test
  2. Ways that the emotion can be positive
    anxiety over a test can motivate you to make sure you are well-prepared
  3. Ways the emotion can be negative
    anxiety can become chronic worry
  4. Summary and conclusion
  5. What's It to You? - hints for dealing with your emotions
    deep breathing, exercise to burn off excess energy

I found this book to be very helpful (even for me) in identifying emotions.  I especially liked the What's It to You? sections of the chapters.  This book is geared towards older teenagers and young adults, but how many of us are in touch with all our emotions all the time?  I think this book would be an asset to any home.

My rating:

I give Emotions! Making Sense of Your Feelings five smiley faces!!!  A must read!!!

I was given a complimentary copy of this book for the purposes of review.  All opinions are 100% my own.