Increasing Awareness about Suicidal Ideation In Today’s Teens
Sometimes referred to as the “anxious generation,” today’s young people are more likely to talk about mental health than previous generations. 67% of teens tell a friend that they are feeling suicidal before telling anyone else. While these conversations help break the stigma around mental illness, most people suffer in silence for a while before realizing that they are still feeling the same way. Many parents are unsure of how to intervene with suicidal ideation in teens. They are worried that they might not be able to say or do anything that would make a difference.
Risk of Suicide
Rates of depression among teens have doubled in the past decade, particularly for girls, jumping from around 8% in 2010 to almost 20%. In a similar time frame, suicide rates have escalated from less than 1 in 100,000 people to almost 4 in 100,000 people. Suicide ranks as the third leading cause of death among youth aged 15-24.
As these rates have climbed, people are becoming more aware of the impact of depression and suicidal ideation. Suicide has shed some of its stigma and is increasingly viewed as a public health issue.
Suicidal Ideation in Teens: Everybody Knows Somebody
Researchers have focused on the impact of community-based awareness programs in encouraging people to look for resources and reach out for help. Efforts have been made to increase community support by educating parents, teachers, and peers on how to talk to someone struggling with suicidal ideation.
Not everyone struggling with suicidal thoughts has an active plan and is showing noticeable warning signs. Community education helps break stereotypes about people at risk of suicide and emphasizes that people struggle in different ways.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline encourages people to #BeThe1To:
- Ask. Asking the question “Are you thinking about suicide?” communicates that you are open to speaking about suicide in a non-judgmental way. Asking in this direct, unbiased manner, can open the door for effective dialogue about their emotional pain. Ask how you can help.
- Keep Them Safe. Do they have a specific, detailed plan? What sort of access do they have to their planned method? Identify ways to keep them safe that don’t feel punitive. Emphasize that their safety comes first.
- Be There. This could mean being physically present for someone, speaking with them on the phone when you can, or any other way that shows support for the person at risk. Remind them that you will be there whether or not they reach out.
- Help Them Stay Connected. Reach out for professional help or look for outside resources that can give them additional support. While it is important to be there for them, you may not have all the answers and should not be expected to take on the responsibility of helping on your own.
- Follow Up. Suicidal thoughts can be insidious and sneak back up unpredictably. Many people who reach out for help hope that their thoughts will disappear. This is not always the case. Continued therapy sessions help your teen identify their triggers and talk about how to apply the skills they’ve learned when overwhelming feelings arise.
- Learn More about ways you can continue to be a support system. Family therapy focuses on healing strained relationships between family members by teaching them ways to communicate more effectively and how to use coping skills to take care of themselves. Doing your own research on suicidal ideation can show your teen that you want to understand where they are coming from and to do what you can to be there.
Elevations RTC Can Help
Elevations RTC is a program for adolescents ages 13-18 that are struggling with mental health issues and suicidal ideation. We offer a multidisciplinary approach and provide college preparatory academics, therapeutic recreation activities, and individual, family and group psychotherapy. Our goal is to teach students positive coping skills, communication skills, and self-care practices to help them manage symptoms of depression when stressors arise. Elevations gives students the tools they need to lead healthy, happy lives.