September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, so we’re dedicating our blog to … prevention and awareness … this month.
Teen Suicide Statistics
- Suicide is the second or third (depending on which study you read) leading cause of death among teenagers.
- Every day, over 5400 middle school and high school students in the U.S. attempt suicide.
- Four out of five teenagers who attempt suicide have given clear warning signs.
- 90% of teens who commit suicide have some sort of mental health problem.
- 1/3 of all teen suicide victims had made a previous attempt.
Know the Warning Signs
Most people give clear warning signs that they are planning an attempt to end their lives. Prevention starts when everyone knows what to watch out for.
- Direct or indirect threats—spoken, posted online, texted, etc. “I’d be better off dead.” “You’ll be better off without me,” etc.
- Previous attempts—The risk of a repeat is 100x greater within the first year after a previous attempt.
- Preoccupation/obsession with death—Art, poetry, etc., especially if such behavior is out of character.
- Depression—Loss of interest in activities, declining grades, poor hygiene, expressions of hopelessness, etc.
- Making final arrangements—Many people, even teenagers, will begin to make some kind of final arrangements, like giving away special possessions, saying goodbye to people, even making funeral arrangements.
There is no complete list. Things like increased drug and alcohol abuse, emotional stress, feelings of shame, taking excessive risks, etc. Trust your gut. If a friend, sibling, classmate, etc. is behaving strangely, do something.
And know that many warning signs don’t get reported, because friends and family don’t take them seriously. It can be difficult, but it’s worth the awkwardness to potentially save someone’s life.
In the meantime, if your friends tend to joke about death and suicide, talk about it and agree to knock it off. It’s not really funny, and if it makes it difficult to know when someone is really in trouble—then you can agree that your lives are more important.
If You’re Worried a Friend Might Be Suicidal
Tell someone. Talk to your friend about it. The first thing we need to do is get over the stigma around mental illness, so talk about it.
Tell your friend why you’re concerned and encourage him/her to talk to someone who can help. If he/she blows you off, or insists that there’s nothing wrong, but you don’t believe it—don’t give up.
Talk to his/her parent. If you don’t think a parent will take the threat seriously, talk to a teacher, counselor, or pastor. Teachers and ministry leaders in Illinois are “mandated reporters,” which means that if they are told about abuse or suicide risks, they have to report it to authorities. Don’t quit until someone takes action.
Will your friend get annoyed? Maybe. Will people think you’re going overboard? Possibly. Will it be awkward? Probably.
Is it worth it? Absolutely.
If You are Considering Suicide
Talk. To. Someone.
You can call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline 24 hours/day at 800-273-8255. You can chat with them online here.
If you just want to talk to someone who will listen, someone who has faith in God and isn’t forbidden to talk about it, you can chat online with a Remedy Live representative. They also have a lot of other resources available.
You are also welcome to come and talk to any of the pastors or leaders at Redefined on a Friday night. We are not trained counselors, and we required to report anyone who would hurt you—even yourself—but we will listen and pray with you.