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Facing the worst: Suicide in teens

By Dr. Poonam Khanna, D.O./Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist

Your teen might be admitted to a hospital in severe cases for observation and treatment. Suicide attempts are one of the most common reasons teens with depression are hospitalized. Suicide is the third leading cause of death for adolescents. Every year in the U.S., there are 5,000 suicides in people ages 10–24.

Teens suffering from depression can get lost in feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness. In their troubled minds, suicide seems like the only answer. If depression isn’t treated, impulsive acts can end tragically.

Suicide can be prevented if you learn to recognize the signs of suicidal thoughts. You might need to intervene if your teen:

  • Obsesses about death
  • Makes an open threat of suicide
  • Writes poems or creates art pieces about death
  • Drastically changes appearance or mood
  • Behaves defiantly
  • Acts violently
  • Changes sleep or eating habits
  • Gives away belongings
  • Isolates him or herself

If you have any inkling that your teen might be suicidal, seek help right away. Call a suicide hotline or take your child to the emergency room.

Two helpful hotlines include 800-SUICIDE (800-784-2433) or 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255). Both lines will provide you with a qualified professional who can talk with you or your child about suicidal thoughts and behaviors.

Being suicidal is a sign of severe depression. With appropriate treatment and the support of family and friends, teens who consider or attempt suicide can recover and return to a healthy life.