ABH Maryland

Better Understanding the Warning Signs of Suicide in Teens 


Better Understanding the Warning Signs of Suicide in Teens 

  • Children Mental Health
  • Family
  • Mental Health

September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and an opportunity to reflect on common teen suicide warning signs. Parents or guardians of a teen have the serious responsibility of staying on the lookout for signs of suicidal tendencies. It is a sad fact of life that the challenges of the adolescent years can often be overwhelming. In 2022, suicide ranked the second-leading cause of death among people aged 15 to 24.

Each one of those deaths by suicide was a tragedy. Adults must recognize the warning signs of suicide in teens so their child does not become the next in a long line of lost lives.

Read on to better understand prioritizing your teen’s mental health, spotting the red flags that show a problem, and providing support if you notice something is wrong. If you or your teen are in immediate crisis, call or text the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988.

Prioritizing Mental Health

The stresses and pressures teenagers face today are intense and distinct from the ones teenagers faced in previous generations. From academic demands to peer expectations to the smothering presence of social media, adults must consider the many factors that can push young people to suicidal thoughts.

The best thing to do is encourage open communication and create a nurturing atmosphere free from judgment so teens feel welcome. Foster a sense of belonging within the family, and your teen will feel more comfortable sharing their concerns.

When teens share the feelings that are troubling them, they need empathy, not criticism or judgment. Sometimes, they are just looking for someone to listen to their problems and ask simple questions such as “What can I do to help?” or “What do you need from me?”

You don’t have to solve all of your teen’s problems to help them. Too often, we feel the need to let them know “Everything is going to be great” or “Just stay positive” when what they are looking for is someone who will acknowledge their feelings and provide a warm and supporting relationship.

Recognizing Warning Signs

While no two teens are alike, adolescents tend to exhibit similar behavior that indicates a risk of suicide. Here are some common red flags to look for. 

  • A preoccupation with suicide or death
  • Sudden, severe changes in mood or behavior
  • Significant changes in weight
  • Withdrawing from friends
  • Expressions of hopelessness or worthlessness
  • Insomnia or changes in sleep patterns 

An important distinction to make is the practice of self-harm or self-injury, where people cut, burn, or otherwise injure their skin. Self-harm is certainly a mental health concern that should require immediate attention, but it is not necessarily a sign of an impending suicide attempt. It is, however, a sign that something is wrong. 

Considering Outside Factors that Increase Suicide Risk

There are a host of unique environmental factors that could increase the suicide risk of any individual. Here are some common ones:

  • A co-existing mental health disorder
  • Alcohol or drug use
  • A recent romantic or family breakup
  • The presence of a firearm in the home
  • Family history of suicide
  • Exposure to the suicidal behavior of others
  • Prior suicide attempts

Contact Us

If you have noticed any of these teen suicide warning signs in your household, call Advanced Behavioral Health today. 

We understand the gravity of the teen suicide crisis, and we treat every patient with the compassion and empathy they deserve. Our entire team of experienced mental health specialists is here to support your teen and offer the quality counseling they need.

We always handle each patient’s case confidentially. Call today at 301-345-1022 or send us a message online here. We are standing by to help you find the peace of mind you and your teen are searching for. 

When you think of the well-being of a child, you first think of basic needs: food, water, and shelter. Once these needs are met, however, it’s crucial for a child to have emotional and social wellness as well. In this article, we will explore the impact social wellness has on the overall health of a child and great ways for children to garner social support in their lives.

It comes as no surprise that as human beings, we all need connection with others, no matter what stage of life we are in. In fact, having social support is a social determinant of health (SDOH) that significantly impacts the health of an individual. After spending the last few years in and out of isolation due to the Covid-19 outbreak, social support is more important now than ever before. Having social support means having family members and friends you can talk to and seek advice from when life feels challenging and overwhelming. Knowing you’re not alone in your life journey, especially as a child, creates a sense of belonging and empowerment throughout one’s life.

4 Types of Social Support

Emotional Support. This type of support lets you know that people care about you and have empathy for your experiences. Emotional support often looks like people checking in on you to let you know they’re thinking of you, and that they are there if you need anything. As a parent, make sure your child knows you can be a sounding board for them. If you have family members who can also show up for your children in this way, even better!

Practical Help. This type of support is when people give you something tangible or offer a service to help you out. This could be in the form of money, making food when you are sick, or helping to pack when moving. Having family and friends show up in this way shows your child what it looks like to be present for people you love.

Sharing Points of View. This type of support can often come in the form of affirmations and encouragement. For example, pointing out your child’s strengths to them and reminding them they can do anything they put their mind to. It can also look like sharing another perspective if they are being hard on themselves. For example, if they are angry with themselves after receiving a bad grade on a test, you can help them see it as a learning experience and a way for them to grow.

Sharing Information. This type of support is when someone shares what they’ve learned from their own life experiences. For example, if another parent has a child who struggles with socializing, they can share some tips and tricks they’ve learned to help their child find and create social support.

The Importance of Social Groups and Extended Support

Children who are connected to their family, friends, and people in their community have opportunities to learn how to speak, share, and get along with others. When your child feels connected to people in your neighborhood, it often allows them to feel physically safe which can alleviate stress and worry. Simply riding bikes, going on walks, and saying hello to neighbors with your kids can create this sense of security for them.

In addition to engaging with your neighbors, getting involved in local organizations can also create social support for your child. Signing up for a sports team, musical theater, art class or summer camp are all great ways to help your child meet new friends and learn important social skills that can carry them through their lives.

Tips for Helping Kids Make Community Connections:

Spend time outside in your neighborhood playing on the playground, going to a local farmer’s market, or scheduling a playdate with neighborhood kids.

Show your kids that connection is a two-way street. If your neighbors or friends go out of town, offer to get their mail, or water their plants and take your child with you when you go. This will show your child how you show up for people you care about.

Make sure you make time for socializing with friends as well. Your child looks to you first and foremost for how they should act and live their own life.

Encourage your child to step out of their comfort zone and do something they may be scared to do. As a parent, it’s your job to push them into something social for their own well-being at times.