Teen Suicide: Warning Signs to Watch For

Although every teen is different, there are some warning signs that teens often show before they commit suicide.

The vast majority of suicides are related to emotional or psychiatric disorders, including depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and others. Some warning signs of depression can include: sudden changes in personality (ex. lose interest almost overnight on some of their favorite things), expressions of hopelessness, declining academic performance, increased irritability, withdrawal from friends and family, lack of hygiene (no longer taking showers) and other changes in habits.

Stressful life events can also be a trigger. Things like unwanted pregnancy, breakups and being bullied are a few examples.

Many times, teens will become preoccupied with death and suicide. They’ll talk or write about death and dying or depict it in their artwork in a way that is not normal (continuously bringing it up, etc).

Saying things like, “I’d be better off dead,” “I won’t be bothering you much longer,” “you’d be better off without me,” “I hate my life” or direct threats like “I’m going to kill myself/hang myself/blow my brains out/jump off a bridge/etc” may indicate serious suicidal feelings and need to be handled seriously.

One of the last things they often do is make final arrangements. This could mean giving away their favorite possessions that they normally would never part with as well as saying good-bye to friends and family.

If you notice any of these warning signs, it is extremely important to address and treat them. Also, make sure to not leave them alone. Be a good listener, don’t judge, and don’t dismiss any of your teen’s concerns. Seek professional help immediately.

The LoveEd Movement provides outreach and education for older teens and millennials on the dangers they face on and off-line as well as viable solutions for helping older teens and millennials make healthy relationship choices.

Please check out our Compassionate Dialogues Curriculum for teachers and school personnel to use with pre-teens, teens and millennials who are experiencing distress, depression, or are suicidal or homicidal.