Your teen may be considering suicide.
- Talking or joking about committing suicide
- Saying things like: “I’d be better off dead” OR “I wish I could disappear forever”
- Speaking positively about death or romanticizing dying
- Writing stories and poems about death, dying or suicide
- Engaging in reckless behaviors or having many accidents resulting in injury
- Giving away prized possessions
- Saying goodbye to friends and family as if for the last time
- Seeking out weapons, prescription/over the counter medicines, or other ways to kill themselves
- Being involved in an unhealthy, destructive or abusive relationship or unhealthy peer relationships
- Bullying; being bullied as well as bullying others
- Unusual neglect of physical appearance
- Speaking or moving with unusual speed or slowness
Myths about Teen Suicide
Teens who talk about suicide are just trying to gain attention.
FACT: Talking about suicide is a warning sign. These teens are begging for help through their communication, “threats” and attempts.
Teens who are suicidal want to die.
FACT: Often they just want help. They want to escape from their current problems, and they believe that dying is the only way to end it. They are searching for someone or something that will provide them with an alternative or hope.
Once someone decides to commit suicide, there is nothing anyone can do to talk them out of it.
FACT: Warning signs are often given because they desperately want to be talked out of their plan. Providing immediate attention and help can give them hope to recognize there are other ways to cope.
You should never ask if they are contemplating suicide, because that will prompt them to think about it as an option.
FACT: Being direct and honest is best. If they are not contemplating, your questions will not make them consider it. If they are contemplating, then direct questions let them know someone cares and is paying attention.
When teens feel better, they are no longer suicidal.
FACT: This is another often-missed suicide warning. If youth do seek help and are “better”, it doesn’t mean the risk has disappeared. Ongoing mental health treatment should be provided until service providers feel that stability is achieved for a lengthy period.