Every year thousands of families are faced with teenage suicides. Considered the third leading cause of death for youth ages 15-24, suicide doesn't just happen. Unlike adults who have the ability to seek out help on their own, teenagers must usually rely on teachers, friends, parents or other caregivers to recognize their hopeless suffering.

Teenagers face a host of pressures, from biological changes that puberty bring to questions and struggles with their own identity. Transitioning from child to adult also brings parental conflict as youth start asserting their independence. It isn't always easy with all this drama to tell the difference between depression and normal teenage moodiness. There are; however, significant signs in adolescents before an attempt is ever made.

Seriously depressed teens often think about, speak of, or make "attention-getting" attempts at suicide. An alarming and increasing number of suicide attempts are successful, so suicide thoughts or behavior must always be taken seriously.

Suicide Warnings in Depressed Teens

  • Talking or joking about committing suicide.

  • Saying things like, "I'd be better off dead."; "I wish I could disappear forever." or "There's no way out. "; "No one would even miss me if I was gone.", "I can't take living here anymore."

  • Saying good-bye to friends and family as if it were for the last time.

  • Giving away personal items that held or hold special importance to them.

  • Verbalized or written threats.

  • Feelings of hopelessness/helplessness.

  • Self-abusive behaviors like cutting, taking pills, excessive piercing, or tattoos.

  • Personality changes such as withdrawal from friends and activities, aggressiveness, unusual moodiness.

  • Prior history of verbal, emotional, physical or sexual abuse.

  • Isolating.

  • Tearfulness or frequent crying.

  • Lack of enthusiasm and motivation.

  • Difficulty concentrating.

  • Restlessness and agitation.

  • Unusual anger directed at self or others.

  • Change in academic performance. Skipping/Missing school.

  • Chronic tardiness

  • Previous suicide attempts.

  • Taking part in high risk behaviors such as promiscuity, drugs, alcohol, reckless driving.

Consider how long the signs and symptoms have been present along with their severity. How different is the adolescent is acting from their usual self? Some of the above behaviors are to be expected as teens struggle through these transitional years.

An important note to consider is that a traumatic event does not have to be personally experienced by a young person. Suicidal ideation can be triggered by trauma in a close friend or family’s life. Due to the flux and range of emotions that teenagers feel, remember they haven't learned to properly process trauma which can be triggered by hearing or witnessing a traumatic event first hand or even in the media.