It’s all over the news. Suicide is a terrifying thing for parents to think about. And the statistics are real: it’s the third leading cause of death in people 15-24, behind accidents and homicide. With social media in our everyday lives and more non-stop avenues for teens to bully each other, it’s no wonder that the rates are increasing. In the US alone, between 1999 and 2014, the number of girls aged 10-14 who committed suicide tripled.
Ok, enough with the scary statistics. This talk begs the question, what can we do about it?
Most suicides or suicide attempts, in hindsight, have some red flags that parents can watch for. The majority of these kids are affected by a mood disorder- anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, or substance abuse issues. It can be really difficult to sort these symptoms out from being a “moody teenager” for many parents, but here are some alarm signs to be on the lookout for:
- Big changes in eating/sleeping habits
- Suddenly dropping grades in school
- Not being interested in doing things they used to enjoy
- Excessively guilty feelings
- Low energy levels or difficulty concentrating
- Verbalizing “I would be better off dead”, “you won’t have to worry about me much longer”, or frequent dark thoughts
- Violent outbursts
- Sudden happiness after a long period of sadness
- Frequent physical complaints (i.e. Stomach pain, headaches, body aches)
- Running away or rebellious behavior
- Change in hygiene
- Giving away possessions
- Isolating from family and friends
These are just some of the many symptoms children/adolescents may exhibit if they are struggling. The bottom line is, if you are concerned about your child, say something. If any of these warning signs exist, there are many avenues available to help. Here’s a list of just a few of the resources available:
Crisis TEXT number- text HOME to 7417421 and have 24/7 access to someone to help via text messaging
(Free to ATT, Sprint, Verizon and T-Mobile customers)
Reno crisis call center (775)794-8090. They also have a texting service where you can text ANSWER to 839863
Reno’s Mobile Crisis Response Team- they serve youth 5-18 years of age. Their hours are Monday-Sunday 8:00am-6:00 pm and their phone number is (775)688-1670. They will do an assessment of the child/situation in teams including a case manager and clinician and will need the legal guardian present to sign paperwork and to stay until the assessment is done. The clinician will do their assessment and see if the child can be kept safe in their home or if they require transportation to a hospital.
Print these and put them on your refrigerator or somewhere easy for your child to access. And don’t be afraid to say something, sometimes all it takes is starting the conversation.