As the holiday season draws near, families and friends will be spending more and more time around each other. Family members will see each other more often as schools take their winter hiatus and vacations are taken from work. This presents a critical time to take notice of young people who may be struggling.
Currently, suicide is the second leading cause of death for young people (ages 10 – 24) in Tennessee. We do know, however, that four out of five of these young people display clear warning signs before an attempt. Please take a moment to familiarize yourself with these warning signs. While a young person exhibiting one of these signs may just be typical teenage behavior, multiple behaviors persisting over an extended period of time could be indicative of a larger problem.
Warning Signs of suicidal ideation include, but are not limited, to the following:
• Talking about suicide
• Making statements about feeling hopeless, helpless, or worthless
• A deepening depression
• Preoccupation with death
• Taking unnecessary risks or exhibiting self-destructive behavior
• Out of character behavior
• A loss of interest in the things one cares about
• Visiting or calling people one cares about
• Making final arrangements; setting one’s affairs in order
• Giving prized possessions away
Parents should watch and listen to their children. Pay attention to sudden changes in behavior that cause you concern. Be willing to seek professional help and guidance if you feel your child is becoming depressed or contemplating hurting him/herself. Talk openly and honestly with your child about your concerns and be supportive in helping them cope with their feelings. If the situation is a crisis, you need to call 911 or take the child to an emergency room.
If you or someone you love is struggling with depression or thinking about suicide, get help now. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-8255, is a free resource that is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for anyone who is in a suicidal crisis or emotional distress.
Another excellent resource for suicide prevention and awareness is The Jason Foundation, a nationally recognized leader in youth suicide prevention and awareness that has been providing programs and resources to help identify and assist young people who may be struggling with thoughts of suicide for over 20 years. It is the nation’s largest and most comprehensive nonprofit whose focus is the awareness and prevention of youth suicide.
Visit their website for more information regarding warning signs, the organization, and programs it offers at no charge to the community.
Graphic by artist Mikaela Jane for 2012’s World Suicide Prevention Day. Information provided by the Jason Foundation, based out of Hendersonville.