Teen Suicide

James Foster & Associates, LTD-Manchester

Teen suicidal behavior has been related to adolescents being fascinated with death and morbidity for as long as there has been recorded history about them. This phenomenon occurs as a part of their psycho-developmental maturity. It usually first appears between the ages of 12-14. This fascination currently is played out by youngsters through play, video games and other current social outlets. The occurrence of death related language in the adolescent should always be noteworthy. If this death related language is related to other signs or symptoms it may require intervention. 

Behaviors of Concern:

Frequency, duration and degree of involvement are relevant when considering the severity of suicidal language. If the adolescent is admiring, romancing, envying or hoping for death, ending loneliness or any other anti-social state, this is of concern. There are a number of other signs, symptoms and conditions that can be related to suicidal tendency and should be considered. Some of them include: the previous loss of a friend or family member to death(particularly to suicide), the escalating use of alcohol and/or drugs, a decrease in the amount of time spent with peers, a withdrawal from their family, a recent break up with a romantic partner, a recent episode resulting in shame and humiliation, a recent medical diagnosis of a major disorder(particularly if it runs in the family), a recent drop in grades and/or school attendance, a quickly developed interest in recontacting friends from the past, dramatic widespread peace making gestures, a suddenly occurring good mood after a prolonged period of depression, notes being intercepted between youngsters at home or at school etc. 

The detection of a teen suicidal intention or plan escalates the concern. The more concrete the plan, the greater the concern. Adolescents are well known for developing suicide pacts with peers and particularly romantic partners. 

Getting Help:

The first response to a teen's suicidal act, gesture or concern should be interruption. This may only require a conversation but in the extreme may require hospitalization. A thorough evaluation should be conducted at this time. The evaluation should seek to explain the person's current dynamics, level of risk and the areas of therapeutic work that are likely to decrease the risks. During an emergency friends or family members should go to any lengths necessary to protect the victim. This may range from a gentle encouragement to seek help from a counselor up to the involvement of the police to transport the individual for an evaluation at the local hospital emergency room. It should be remembered that a hospitalization in and of itself may not resolve the issue of suicide. Long term counseling after the hospitalization is always recommended to resolve complicated issues and ensure a more full recovery.

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