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Emergency Preparedness

Suicide Prevention

Suicide signals

The strongest risk factors for attempted suicide in youth and young adults are depression, alcohol or drug abuse, and aggressive or disruptive behaviors. If several of the following symptoms, experiences, or behaviors are present, a mental health professional or another trusted adult-such as a parent or a counselor-should be consulted:

Danger signs of suicide

Adolescents who consider suicide generally feel alone, hopeless, and rejected. They are especially vulnerable to these feelings if they have experienced a loss, humiliation, or trauma of some kind: poor performance on a test, breakup with a boyfriend or girlfriend, parents with alcohol or drug problems or who are abusive, or a family life affected by parental discord, separation, or divorce. However, a teenager still may be depressed or suicidal even without any of these adverse conditions.

Teenagers who are planning to commit suicide might "clean house" by giving away favorite possessions, cleaning their rooms, or throwing things away. After a period of depression, they may also become suddenly cheerful because they think that by deciding to end their lives they have "found the solution."

Young people who have attempted suicide in the past or who talk about suicide are at greater risk for future attempts. Listen for hints like "I'd be better off dead" or "I won't be a problem for you much longer."

What can be done?

In short, simply taking the time to talk to troubled teenagers and young adults about their emotions or problems can help prevent the senseless tragedy of teen suicide. Let them know help is available.

© Copyright 1998 American Psychiatric Association



Refer anyone who exhibits these danger signs to the Counseling Center, X5555