When a teen you know commits suicide in your own town, it has an effect on everyone from the family and friends, to the parents of other children. Thursday November 11, a 14-year-old boy in our town took his own life. This did not make the news as so many others do, but it needs to come to everyone’s attention that there are signs to look for and maybe someone out there can help another teen before it is too late.
According to, www.teensuicide.u s, reports say that 4 out of 5 teen suicides are preventable, that there are warning signs to look for. As a parent if you notice any of the following signs in your child, don’t wait, get help.
• Talks about thoughts of a desire to leave this world
• Normal habits change
• Weight changes
• Mood swings
• Substance abuse
• A loss of interest in their favorite things
• Stops caring about their personal appearance
• Always bored
• Gives or throws away important possessions
• Says things similar to; in case something happens to me, or I won’t be any trouble anymore.
When the behavior happens separately and rarely, it is not necessarily an indication of suicide, but it is always better to err on the side of caution. Never think that these are just the average teenage hormones when a pattern begins to immerge. When a noticeable difference in behavior starts, talk to him or her, let him or her know they are loved, wanted, needed, and important in so many lives. Support is what a child needs now, along with finding out the root cause of these feelings. Do not wait, pay a visit to their doctor, and get help.
When a Teen Suicide Does Happen
If your child loses a friend to suicide , the effects could be shattering to their beliefs, their innocence. They may feel responsible, or angry that their friend was selfish. These emotions are normal, talk to your teen and let them know that there is no right or wrong way to feel. If the school calls in counselors to help the students deal with the loss, encourage your child to talk to them.
Call the school to make sure that counselors will be available for your child and others who are suffering from this sudden tragic loss. If you as a parent need to talk to someone do so, you need to grieve too. You need to be there for your child to help them through this tragic time in their young life.
Do let your child know that if they, or anyone they know, talks about copying this behavior, they should speak with a trusted adult immediately. Let your child know that they can come to you with any problem, that nothing is so big that suicide is the only option. Tell them that even if they do not feel comfortable turning to you, that you are OK with them seeking help from another trusted adult, as long as they seek help. This may be hard for you, but necessary. Friends can also be a good resource, but make sure they know to go to an adult if they feel hopeless and alone.
A Personal Note
On a personal note, I spoke to my son about his feelings after this tragedy. His response was very far from what I expected. Yes, he was sad, but he immediately thought that the social networking sites had something to do with it. My son felt that in some way, too much socializing on the internet takes the personal touch out of life. He said that maybe, “friends in person would have made the difference”. I don’t know if he is right or not, but it does make sense.
“Out of the mouth of babes”
We do not know why this teen committed suicide and we probably never will. It is my hope that the warning signs above will help someone else from having to wonder why too.