Supportive Adults Can Reduce Teen Suicide Attempts
Social support is one of the most important protective factors against suicidal thoughts. Teens are more likely to feel a sense of belonging and to trust that they have people that they can go to if they are feeling unsafe. According to the National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health, teens who report having at least one accepting adult were 40% less likely to report a suicide attempt in the past year. Residential treatment programs take a relationship-based approach to helping teens develop a stronger support network to help them cope with issues they face.
Adults Offer Wisdom
Teens often forget that adults were once teens too. While adolescence looks differently in the age of technology than it did a few decades ago, many of the struggles teen face are timeless. Existential psychologists suggest that anxiety, hopelessness, and loneliness are part of the human condition and that these forces motivate behavior—either positive or negative. Supportive adults can reflect on their own experiences and offer insight that they have learned over time to teens who have not yet drawn those conclusions. Intergenerational support can provide teens with tools to face challenges proactively before situations escalate.
Teens’ brains are still developing, which influences their ability to see situations objectively. They are more likely to become overwhelmed by situations and ruminate on intense emotions. Adults are better able to separate themselves from intense emotions and to offer rational support by helping teens identify specific triggers and goals.
Adults Serve as Mentors
Most teens interact with adults on a frequent basis–whether this includes their parents or their teachers. However, sometimes their role in teens’ lives can conflict with teens’ perceptions of their trustworthiness. While both parents and teachers have teens’ best interests in mind, teens worry that reaching out to them for support may affect other interactions that they have. Mentors and professionals, who have experience working with teens struggling with mental health issues, provide non-judgmental support for teens struggling with hopelessness and stress. The goal of mentorship is to help teens come to their own conclusions about what might work for them, rather than to be told what to do and expected to follow those expectations.
Many teens have problems with problem-solving, as they have been dependent on their parents to make a lot of decisions for them. As they begin to make more of their own decisions, they often struggle to understand the potential consequences of their behavior, which can lead to impulsive decisions followed by feelings of shame and guilt. Being a mentor for teens begins by teaching them how to normalize their behavior. They need to know that it’s okay to be upset, but expressing such intense emotion doesn’t work in certain situations. Offering teens different approaches and ideas can help them better understand how to modify and change how they respond to difficult situations.
Adults Provide Hope
Many teens have a hard time figuring out their direction in life. They feel overwhelmed by possibilities and struggle to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Adults remind teens that the light will remain there and that they have to be patient, but that things do get better when they keep an open mind. Teens are easy to dismiss these promises, but spending more time with adults can help teens begin to imagine what their own future will look like. Adults can help teens make positive choices by role modeling healthy behaviors and guiding their decision-making process.
If your teen is struggling with suicidal ideation, hopelessness, and difficulty trusting others, our supportive professionals can help!
Elevations RTC Can Help
Elevations RTC is an all gender residential treatment center for teens ages 13-17. Our students struggle with anxiety, depression, ADHD, self esteem, and bullying. We follow an intensive interdisciplinary approach that offers college preparatory academics, therapeutic recreation activities, and individual, family and group psychotherapy. Elevations gives students the skills and confidence they need to transition to the real world and lead healthy, happy lives.
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