Suicide is the second leading cause of death for children, adolescents, and young adults age 5-24 years old. Most children and adolescents who attempt suicide usually have depression, or another significant mental health disorder.
Impulsivity is common for suicide attempts among children. It may be associated with feelings of sadness, confusion, or anger.
Suicide attempts among teenagers can be associated with feelings of stress, self-doubt, pressure to succeed, financial uncertainty, disappointment and loss. Some teens find suicide to be a solution to these problems.
Suicidal thoughts and depression can be treated. Every child and adolescent feeling this way should have an assessment, which may lead to a diagnosis and treatment plan.
Although depression is known to be correlated with suicide and suicide attempts, there are a few other risk factors including:
- Family history of suicide or suicide attempts
- Exposure to violence
- Aggressive behavior
- Disruptive behavior
- Access to weapons
There are warning signs of suicide that should be payed attention to. Children and adolescents openly make suicidal comments, such as “I wish I was dead” or “I won’t be a problem for you much longer.” Other warning signs include:
- Difference in eating or sleeping habits
- Sadness frequently or persistently
- Withdrawal from regular activities/interests, family and friends
- Complaints about physical symptoms, such as headaches, stomachaches, etc.
- Quality of schoolwork declines
- Fixation with death and dying
Another warning sign of suicide is that children and adolescents may stop planning for the future and start selling their belongings.
Suicide is known to be a taboo topic, however being open about this subject with your child or adolescent can be helpful. Specific questions to be addressed include:
- Are you feeling sad or depressed?
- Are you thinking about hurting or killing yourself?
- Have you ever had thoughts about hurting or killing yourself?
These questions are a direct way to give your child a chance to talk about their problems and provide reassurance to families.
Here at Premier Mind Institute (PMI), we take the necessary time and steps to provide thorough evaluations for children and adolescents who have suicidal ideation. When presented with an individual who may have suicidal ideation, we conduct a thorough mental health assessment to help determine the best comprehensive treatment plan. We look at every individual as a whole incorporating psychotherapy, medications, diet, exercise, and other alternative treatments, as applicable. At PMI, we focus on providing individuals with coping skills to effectively work through their emotions, collaborating with other professionals and family members to achieve the best treatment outcome.
*Reprinted with permission from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, © All Rights Reserved, 2019. For full text please visit: