Youth & Community Health Information from The College of Physicians of Philadelphia

Suicide in Teens

There’s no way I can take it, the pain is overbearing. I want this pain and suffering to end. There’s no reason for me to live any longer, I have no purpose. Nobody would care if I died right now. If I were to die today everything would be fine. Leave me alone, don’t talk to me. The world is against me and I cannot win.”

sad drawing

That was me two years ago, close to the end of my freshman year of high school. I was ready to give up on life. It seemed like the end of the road for me. I looked back at all the major events in my life and felt that they were for nothing. Luckily someone reached out to me and got me the support that I needed to live my life and to live it better than ever.

Intro to Suicide

Everyday teens feel many kinds of pressures including stress, doubt, and pressure to succeed as well as other emotions that can lead them to feel uncertain about themselves and their life. If these emotions and pressures go without attention or even treatment, it can lead the teen to go into a deep depression and even have suicidal thoughts. About 50% of teens have or had suicidal thoughts. Many young people feel that suicide they is the only option to relieve their pain. If they feel that they are unable to control their emotional pain they think that maybe inflicting physical pain or even killing themselves can put an end to all the stress they have in their lives.

What May Cause a Teen to Think about Suicide?

There are a variety of causes that lead up to the time in a teen’s life when they may feel suicidal. Some factors include: breakup with a girlfriend/boyfriend, major disappointment/rejection, death in the family, or failing a big exam. In my case the cause was problems at home with my mother. To me, the arguing was overbearing to the point where I had suicidal thoughts. The majority of youth that commit suicide or attempt suicide may have a mental or substance disorder and because of that they have trouble dealing with tough situations in their lives in the right manner. With youth that have a disorder, they may not be able to see the brighter side to life and that things can and will turn out for the better after a stumbling block in their life. There have been studies that show that suicidal thoughts or the factors leading to such may run in the family genetics.

Symptoms and Signs

There are a number of symptoms and signs that one may see in a youth who feels down or even worse, is feeling suicidal. Some symptoms of depression are: change in eating/sleeping, violent acts/mood swings, neglect of personal appearance, decline in the quality of school work, and constant boredom. In my case the symptoms I had were lack of sleeping and mood swings.

Signs that a teen may be planning suicide include: complaining about themselves, saying things such as “nothing matters” or “I won’t see you again” or “I won’t be a problem much longer”, giving away possessions/throwing away things, or becoming suddenly happy after a depressing stage.

Something that should not be taken lightly is when someone says that they want to kill themselves. It should never be taken as a joke or let go without seeking help. You should immediately get that person help from a mental health professional.

What can a person do to help?

When faced with a person that is contemplating committing suicide, know that there are many ways you can help. The main feeling that someone with suicidal thoughts has is the feeling of being alone or helpless. The most important thing that you can do is to communicate and be there for that person. Make sure that he/she knows that you will always be there for them and that you care. Keep in mind to always take the statements the person says seriously and never think that because the person said they will commit suicide that they won’t. More than half of people that commit suicide leave a warning or mention that they are thinking about committing the act.

One misconception is that when talking to a person that is contemplating suicide is that you shouldn’t bring up the topic of suicide. Contrary to this belief, if you bring up the subject of suicide and let the person know about the consequences to what their thinking about doing it may lead that person to reconsider. If you talk to them about how the people around them will be affected and the mere severity of the act it can really be of help in the future.

Who do I see for help?

Depending on the individual's situation there are many trained professionals in the mental health field that can counsel your teen and get them to the place that they need to be mentally. There are psychologists, psychiatrists, counselors and therapists among others in the field that are trained to work with mental health. When my mother realized that I needed help she took me to a psychiatrist who talked me through my difficult time. It is important to understand the difference between a psychiatrist and a psychologist. A psychiatrist is viewed as a medical doctor and can do counseling type sessions but if needed they can prescribe medicines for their patients. A psychologist is not viewed as a medical doctor and cannot prescribe medicines. All of the professionals in the mental health field are available to help and have a duty to ensure the mental health of their patient so that they may live their life to the fullest.

I continue to get honor roll and good grades today not to please my mother, but because I want to attend College after graduating in June 2011. If a person just reaches out to someone with depressing or suicidal thoughts it can save a life, save a family, and let that teen see the world in a new light.

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