Assessing Suicidal Behavior in Teens

If you have never been to a point of complete hopelessness where there is nothing but black and nothing is ever going to be right again; you have not known the suicidal tendency that kills.

This is what the mindset of someone in an extremely profound state of depression is like.
I was on a headlong dive into self destruction by the age of fifteen. I had been through suffering from an ulcer caused by stress. I was the’ most unpopular girl in my class. I felt I belonged no where at all. I even ran away from home once, but made it as far as town, then someone recognized me and I had little choice but to go home. My school career since kindergarten had been sheer torment, and I finally sought the most in trouble kids in school to hang with. I needed some kind of acceptance.

At that time the idea of a teenager having bipolar disorder was not even thought of. The term Clinical Depression was not used.

If I had ever had much time to myself during my depressed states, I may have given myself time to actually plan suicide, and I would have robbed myself, those around me, and the future of so much.

It happens, and it is not always as apparent as one may think. We get used to a moody kid. We think everything to do with moods in girls and women are due to their monthly cycle and hormones.

The only way to know how to assess your teenager for suicidal tendencies is to watch and listen. If they threaten to kill them self when they are angry with you, you can hope that they are playing a mind game, but don’t count on it. Take any such threat or remark seriously. Neither do you want to overreact and have them be afraid to tell you when they are feeling hopeless. So what is the answer?

First you need to know some facts about depression. When someone is depressed for more than a couple of days, they need some attention. If they don’t seem to have any energy, complain of not being able to concentrate, start unexpectedly blaming loved ones for their “ruined” life, or start drawing away from their family and friends more than is their nature since childhood, you are seeing depression. You have a teenager with severe depression in your midst. If you feel that this person is in any way a danger to themselves or others around them, call for help immediately, or take them directly to the nearest emergency room of a hospital with mental health care facilities, and avoid leaving them alone.

These signs are not always apparent, some are too good at hiding, but there are things to look for and the following sites can give you a much more comprehensive and professionally credible list of signs and symptoms.

1. American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry: (AACAP) This site offers facts and resources for families and professionals. They have a concern that their information is helpful and ask for your feed back. This shows not only that they do their homework and are professional. But in my estimation are also willing to listen to your questions and experiences to increase their expertise.
http://www.aacap.org/cs/root/facts_for_families/teen_suicide

2. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) puts out a downloadable PDF file called “Lets Talk Facts about Teen Suicide” in this they offer a list of signals to look for that may alert you to a problem. They also give some statistical information and approaches that you can take to help. http://healthyminds.org/multimedia/teensuicide.pdf

3. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), this site offers information about many medical and psychological problems that parents face with their children. Their article entitled “Some Things You Should Know About Preventing Teenage Suicide” is found at http://www.aap.org/advocacy/childhealthmonth/prevteensuicide.htm
This article gives a few important facts, interventions and signs and symptoms to be on the watch for.

4. I would also suggest a good perusal of your local library or Net Library. A quick keyword search offers a host of material related to the topic of teen suicide, or depression in general.

I chose these resources because they are professional groups that have studied the phenomenon of what triggers suicidal tendencies or thoughts in people including teens. There are a lot of Internet articles on this subject and some fairly accurate, but I personally feel safer looking for sources such as these.