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Teen Suicide; Helping our Surviving Children


I was recently tasked to provide psycho-educational support to a high school that experienced a teen suicide. Three months prior, as a parent with a high school teenager, my community experienced a tragic teen suicide. Most of us have been touched by teen suicide in one way or another and we all grieve when children in our communities decide to take their life.  Our children’s sense of security can be threatened when they lose a close friend or acquaintance so abruptly and to suicide. The distress reaction in schools often runs high with so many kids fearful and grieving together.  Administrators seeking out my help reported a significant increase in student hospitalizations following the suicide in their school.

Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death for children and young adults between the ages of 10-24 years old. There are an estimated 25 attempts for every one completed suicide. Risk dramatically increases when there are firearms in the home. Overdose, using over the counter prescription and nonprescription medicine is a common method for attempting and completing suicide. Teen girls think about and attempt suicide twice as often as boys. They tend to overdose on drugs and cut themselves. Teen boys die by suicide four times more often than girls. They are prone to use more dangerous methods such as firearms, hanging and jumping from heights.

Untreated depression is the number one cause of suicide among teenagers. Depression is fairly common in adults and kids. Twenty percent of teens will experience depression symptoms before they reach adulthood. Depression effects teens regardless of gender, social background, income level, or other achievements. Depression can make a teenager as much as 12 times more likely to attempt suicide; yet less than 33 percent of teens with depression get help despite an 80 percent treatment success rate with assistance from a doctor or therapist. Common risk factors for teen depression are:

If you believe your child is at risk or currently suffering from depression it is important to seek out professional help. Signs and symptoms to look for are as follows:

Generally speaking, the impact following a suicide depends on how close our children were to the child who died, or whether they were exposed to the trauma of witnessing distressing scenes. Feelings of guilt and anger are particularly pertinent to survivors. Kids may feel guilty for things they said or didn’t say to their classmate who passed. As parents, it is important to assure them that it was not their fault, rather, a decision made by someone who was not feeling well.

Parents, if you are struggling, it is important to get help for yourself so that you are in a place to support your children. Talking to adults and keeping in touch with other parents is helpful. You may want to seek out counseling support if you find yourself struggling and having a hard time helping your children.

Multiple family members can be affected including your teenager’s younger siblings. Here are some tips for supporting younger children in the household:

Tips for supporting your older children to consider are:

To all affected by the loss of a child, friend, classmate, or community member; it is important to allow yourself time and ritual to grieve. Here are some important points to know about grief.

As painful as it is to talk about or face when our community loses a child to suicide, it is important that we talk about it and support each other through our grief for the sake of healing.

See the links below for more information and support on teen depression and suicide:










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