Does your teen shy away from social interaction and want to be alone most of the time? Are you afraid your teen could be in trouble emotionally and mentally but don’t know how to spot the signs? Well, if you can relate to the above situations reading this post is a must!
Simultaneously struggling with academic burden at high school, hormonal changes, and peer pressure can take a toll on your teen’s mental health. Do you know despair and depression can even push teenagers to the brink of suicide? If you have a teen at home, it is important for you to know about behavioral warning signs. Read on to know how you can help your teen stay positive and keep suicidal tendencies at bay! Suicidal teens have become an integral part of our society now.
What Causes Distress In Teens?
According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, teen suicide is the third major cause of death between the ages of 15 and 24. According to experts, various factors like psychological, social and environmental effects can cause distress in teens. Mental illness is one of the biggest causes of distress among teens. 
[ Read: How To Talk To Teens ]
Signs Of Suicidal Tendencies In Teens:
There are various distress signs that a teen will give out if he is contemplating suicide, whether consciously or subconsciously. Understanding these signs will help you take care of the condition right from the start. Here are some of the common signs that a suicidal teen may exhibit: 
1. Personality Change:
Your teen may suddenly show extreme changes in personality. He may turn from soft-spoken to aggressive and violent. On the other hand, if your teen is aggressive and loud, he may turn quiet and may not speak at all.
2. Lack Of Interest:
If something is bothering your teen, he will suddenly lose interest in things that were earlier dear to him. Your teen may have loved activities like gaming, playing cricket and hanging out with friends. You may suddenly notice a change in his attitude toward these activities that earlier interested him. He may not want to participate in them anymore, and even if he does, he may be entirely disinterested.
3. Changes In Appetite:
A major sign of depression and suicidal thoughts is a sudden change in appetite. As a parent, you will be able to notice this sign better. Your teen may suddenly not feel like eating at all, even if you serve his favorite dish on the table. Conversely, your teen may want to eat all the time, he may be giving in to sudden food cravings.
4. Sleep Disorders:
Emotional and mental stress can also affect your teen’s sleep habits. Your teen may have trouble falling asleep. Even if he does, he may wake up many times in between and not sleep at a stretch. Alternatively, your teen may want to sleep the whole day, even though he is well-rested. He may not want to leave his bed or his room the entire day, sometimes even for days on end.
5. Feeling Tired:
If your teen is depressed, he may feel tired all the time. Even though he may be well-rested and eat well, he will always complain of fatigue. It can lead to drowsiness and the desire to sleep or rest all the time. There will also be considerable loss of stamina in such a condition.
If your teen does not value his worth, it will show up in the way he handles his acts and his self. He may feel guilty all the time and worry unnecessarily about how he is of no use. Your best efforts to convince him otherwise may fail, and he may continue thinking of himself as no good.
7. Withdrawal Symptoms:
Your teen may suddenly cut off from all social gatherings, especially family and friends. He may not want to attend events and social outings. Basic social interactions like greeting a neighbor or going to the market can also be a difficult task to accomplish.Teenage suicidal thoughts often act like a never ending loop which can make a teenager withdrawn.
8. Lack Of Personal Hygiene And Grooming:
Teens pay a lot of attention towards grooming and style. If your teen is having suicidal thoughts or is suffering from depression, it will show in his general appearance. Your teen may not be interested in personal hygiene anymore and may go without a bath for days. He may not want to wear clean or presentable clothes even if you insist.
9. Mood Swings:
You may suddenly notice extreme mood swings in your teen. He may suddenly be aggressive and loud, and in the next instant burst into tears. Your teen could also be indifferent, irritable or sad the entire day, without any obvious reason. The changes in mood and temperament will also reflect in his academic performance.
[ Read: Dealing With Your Teenager’s Mood Swings ]
10. Substance Abuse:
It might be a little difficult to spot, but a little honest discussion with your teen’s friends can help you find out about substance abuse. Your teen may not participate in substance abuse as a regular habit. But it is possible he starts experimenting with the same as a means to overcome his negative feelings. Teenage suicidal behaviors always exhibit a negative vibe.
Parenting Tips To Help A Suicidal Teen:
If you notice the above signs in your teen, it is important you speak to him about your concerns and fear. Here are a few things you should do if you suspect your teen is suicidal: 
- Sit down with your teen and tell him what you suspect. Do not be afraid of using the word ‘suicide.’ Hearing you say it out loud can help your teen open up and discuss his thoughts with you.
- If you are worried about an immediate threat, call your nearest medical emergency center. In the event that your teen does not cooperate, you may need to take him in an ambulance.
- Stay calm and don’t get angry or burst into tears. Remember, you have to help your teen stay calm and not do something in haste. You have to ensure you take control of the situation while being gentle and understanding towards your teen.
- Do not dismiss your teen’s issues as flimsy and non-serious. Let him speak about his worries. Ask him why he feels the way he does and what you can do to help him. Assure your teen that you will do everything you can to help him.
- Once the initial danger is over, and your teen is ready to talk about it, get an urgent appointment with a teen counselor. He will be better equipped to speak to your teen about suicidal thoughts and tendencies.
- Remove all potential hazards from your teen’s immediate environment. Remove alcohol, drugs, tobacco, and firearms or potential weapons.
- Stay close to your teen and do not leave him at any time without responsible adult supervision.
[ Read: Teenage Parenting ]
However, ensure your teen does not feel trapped or monitored round the clock.
Teen suicide is a sad reality, but you can prevent it if you pay close attention. A Suicidal teenager can be counselled and requires help. Always encourage honest discussion and listen to your teen intently. You may not understand everything he says and feels, but do not dismiss it. Tell your teen that he can confidently come to you and share any worry he has. Show him that you are not judgmental and that love and support him unconditionally.
Have you contemplated suicide as a teenager? Did you notice anything like this in your teen or any other adolescent you know? What strategy worked best to overcome the situation? Do share your experiences and advice here to help other moms.
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