It is not an exact science to predict which teens are going to attempt suicide and which will not. But there are risk factors, warning signs and other things to learn about that can help prevent some teens. It is also important to consider the support you can get from organizations like the SPTS and take any talk about suicide seriously. Let’s explore what we know.

Some of the warning signs of suicide in children

Not everyone who has these signs does try to hurt themselves and not everyone who is a risk of suicide shows the same signs. But for an idea of some things to look for they include;

  • Risky actions such as driving too quickly or when drunk
  • Discussing suicide with different people
  • Writing about suicide or expressing feelings of wanting to disappear
  • Seeming to be depressed or anxious
  • Feeling helpless and hopeless
  • Not caring what they look like, not showering or looking after themselves
  • Handing away things that belong to them to other people
  • Abusing drugs and alcohol
  • Becoming withdrawn, not wanting to connect with family or friends
  • Eating less or overeating
  • Sleeping less or oversleeping
  • Acting out, being hostile and angry

Children may be more likely to attempt suicide 

You can check for more information with the SPTS but they are more likely to make an attempt if;

  • They have a history of abuse, physical, sexual or mental
  • They have mental health issues
  • They have been bullied
  • They have easy access to pills or guns to make an attempt
  • They know someone who has attempted it or died because of it
  • They have previously tried to kill themselves
  • They are dealing with discrimination
  • They have a chronic illness
  • They are having problems at school
  • They have been through something stressful like a divorce
  • They have a family history of suicide
  • They have a parent who is addicted to drugs or alcohol
  • They have a parent who is depressed
  • They have a poor family life

Youth suicide prevention

With suicide being one of the leading causes of US youth deaths it is a major concern. But more can still be done to prevent it. There are five action steps the US recommends you to take. To Ask, Keep them safe, Be there, Help them connect and stay connected. Talking does not trigger teens to commit suicide. But it could help. 

Ask if they are thinking about killing themselves and use the real words. Take steps to ensure they are safe and things like guns and pills are locked away. Next, as part of your efforts for youth suicide prevention, you should listen and be there for them. Do not dismiss them or their feelings or their words. Connect them with options for help like crisis lines such as 988 or mental health professionals and then finally follow up after the crisis to see how they are. Studies have shown that when you follow up with someone who was suicidal it helps reduce the chance they try again.