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Teen Suicide

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Health Topic

Teenage Depression and Suicide

We all get down about situations in our lives once in a while. Most teens can balance the problems with friends or a bad grade here or there. It is when it goes beyond “Sad or down” to depressed that causes many problems including suicide. Depression is an ever increasing problem with the current teen population, because of so many things going on in society these days. But depression affects many more teenagers than people think, but only about 20% of these depressed teens ever receive help. Teenage girls are especially high risk for depression, as well as teens with disorders such as learning, conduct, attention, anxiety disorders or a loss of a family member or friend.

“Depression is defined as an illness when the feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and despair persist and interfere with a child or adolescent’s ability to function.” There are many pressures in the teen years including changes from puberty, the transition from child to adult, relationships and friendships and parental conflicts as they seek their independence. Because of these issues some teens get irritable, aggressive, withdrawn or sad. Some of the signs to watch for in your teen are:

-Being agitated or restless -Irritable, hostile, angry

-Frequently crying or tearful -Fatigue or lack of energy

-Loss of activities/concentration -Withdrawn from “some” friends and family

-Sad or hopeless -Guilty feelings or worthlessness feelings

-Changes in eating and sleeping -Thoughts of suicide

-Extreme sensitivity to criticism -Frequent complaints of aches or pains

If left untreated, depression can lead to many things: problems at school because of lack of concentration, running away from home, substance abuse in the form of self medication with alcohol or drugs, eating disorders such as bulimia or anorexia, addiction to the internet, self injury including cutting burning, reckless behaviors including driving recklessly or unsafe sex, and suicide. If your teen starts giving away items or even jokes about suicide, this is a sign that they are depressed and needs to be taken very seriously.

Talk, talk, talk is the beginning to the answer. If you suspect your teen is depressed take action immediately. Even if you are unsure, it is better to be safe than sorry. Talk to your teen about their feelings. Let them know you are worried and explain the signs of depression you have noticed. Try to encourage them to open up about their feelings. If they won’t talk to you, get to someone they will open up to. A guidance counselor or a psychologist is also professionals that deal with this every day. They know the techniques to getting them to open up and express their feelings.

Here are some signs a parent should look for. If observed for prolonged periods of time, they should seek help for their teen:

-Crying, sadness, tearfulness for no reason or at the smallest issues

-Wearing black clothing, writing poetry about death

-Feelings of hopelessness

-Bad hygiene (stop taking showers, etc.), alcohol or drug abuse, self injury

-Dropping out of clubs, sports, activities

-Drop in grades and frequent absences in school

-Avoiding family get-togethers or spending time alone

-Assuming blame or feelings of guilt for events or feelings of not good enough

-Increased anger with family members, being critical, sarcastic

-Physical symptoms including headaches, stomachaches, back pain, etc.

-Change in eating/sleeping patterns

-Talk of running away from home

-Talk about wishing they were dead or suicide. ALWAYS TAKE THIS SERIOUSLY!!

Depression is a serious illness and needs professional treatment immediately. It also takes a lot of support from family and friends. Places to seek treatment could be from your family doctor, family and friends, church or place of worship, phone book. Make an appointment with your family physician. They may run tests to see if his/her depression is caused my something medical. IF it is not medical, please ask your doctor to refer you to a psychologist or psychiatrist who specializes in children and adolescents. It will take a specialist to determine treatment including or not including medications are right for your child.

Discuss the options with your child. Always get your teens input. Teens are dependent on you to make decisions regarding their health, so be sure and get their input. If your child feels uncomfortable with the therapist, then ask to be referred



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