Unfortunately, the Denver area has seen an uptick in recent teen suicide. These suicides always leave our community looking for answers as to why it happened, what could have been done before, and what could be done in the future.
Why do teens commit suicide?
There is no singular answer but there are common themes to be aware of. The popular new series “13 Reasons Why” dealt with the issue of teen suicide and was very popular among teenagers. The show hit a nerve for teenagers across America who could relate to the shows content. They related to the depiction of teenage life in 2017, which is fraught with stressors. Many parents today can’t relate to some of these stressors, which specifically deal with digital and online issues.
Stressors that may contribute to teen suicide:
- Pressure to get good grades
- Trying to make friends
- Bullying (in-person & cyber)
- Mental health issues:
- Grief / Loss
- Peer pressure:
- Drugs / Alcohol
- Sex / Sexting
- Skipping school / Sneaking out
- Illegal Activities
- Family fighting
- Peer suicide
- College enrollment
- Puberty / Hormones
- Job stress
Each one of these stressors can be intense on their own. Together, it can feel overwhelming. Without the help of supportive people and coping tools, some teenagers turn to unhealthy behaviors such as cutting, drug abuse, or suicide.
How to help?
One common fallacy is that asking about suicide will “put the idea” in a person’s brain. This is not true! Asking directly is the best way to find out if someone you love is seriously considering suicide.
Communicate and be supportive. Don’t wait for your teen to come to you. Go to your teenager and talk to them. Yes, I know this isn’t always easy. Teenagers are notoriously secretive and often don’t share things with their parents. Keep calm and be supportive. Allow your teen space to talk and do your best to listen, instead of offering solutions immediately. If you’re unsure of your skills, you can get trained to recognize the signs and how to respond at Mental Health First Aid Trainings offered in Denver, Colorado.
Here are the questions you can ask:
- Are you thinking about suicide? (don’t beat around the bush)
- Do you have a plan to commit suicide?
- What is your plan?
- Is the plan feasible?
- Is there a reason to live and does it outweigh the reasons for dying?
- Can I help you find someone that you could talk to? (therapist, pastor, doctor, etc)
- How strong are these thoughts?
- What can I do to help?
If you learn that your loved one is suicidal, has a feasible plan, and has strong thoughts about suicide, then you need to act immediately.
If the communication between the parents and child is very poor, find someone who can help. Family therapists can help facilitate tough conversations between parents and their children. Therapists and social workers are also able to work directly with your child. If you feel therapy may be beneficial for your teen read more here on how to go about finding the right therapist.
What do I do if my child is considering suicide?
If you are worried about a loved one that may be at risk for suicide or is struggling with mental health issues, it’s your responsibility to do something. Luckily, there are many resources out there to help. In addition to national programs, many communities have local resources that can help. Below you’ll find a list of these resources. Call with your loved one. Do it together.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline–1-800-273-8255. This is a great place to start. The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, as well as prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones.
Here in Denver, contact Colorado Crisis Services. They are a great local resource with trained professionals to help you 24/7. You can call them at 1-844-493-8255, chat with professionals online, or text “TALK” to 38255.
Crisis Text Line– They offer free 24/7 support for people in crisis. Text 741741 from anywhere in the nation to reach a counselor.
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention– Join in their upcoming walks for awareness in Colorado.
Christopher John Counseling is now located in Winston-Salem, NC but still offers teletherapy to clients in Colorado. Chris helps families navigate issues surrounding teen suicide, depression, and anxiety. Parents and children are both supported through sessions and taught how to work together to help fix these issues. If you would like a free consultation, contact Christopher John Counseling today.