Suicide Prevention: What Does it Mean to Be At Risk?

Updated: Aug 30




Since the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen an increase of anxiety & depressive symptoms in people of all ages. In addition to that, our community has also been devastated with an uptick in suicide attempts and ideation.


The prevalence of depression and anxiety symptoms during COVID-19 have doubled, compared with pre-pandemic estimates. And moderator analyses, collected later in the pandemic, revealed that prevalence rates were higher in older adolescents and in girls.


Unfortunately, suicide risk can be overlooked due to misinformation or lack of knowledge around the topic. The more we know, the better chance we can protect our teens.


American Foundation Of Suicide Prevention published the following on their website:

“Top 10 things we’ve learned from research”:

  1. Suicide is related to brain functions that affect decision-making and behavioral control, making it difficult for people to find positive solutions

  2. Limiting a person’s access to methods of killing themselves dramatically decreases suicide rates in communities

  3. Ninety percent of people who die by suicide have an underlying — and potentially treatable — mental health condition

  4. Depression, bipolar disorder, and substance use are strongly linked to suicidal thinking and behavior

  5. Specific treatments used by mental health professionals — such as Cognitive Behavior Therapy-SP and Dialectical Behavior Therapy — have been proven to help people manage their suicidal ideation and behavior

  6. No one takes their life for a single reason. Life stresses combined with known risk factors, such as childhood trauma, substance use — or even chronic physical pain — can contribute to someone taking their life

  7. Asking someone directly if they’re thinking about suicide won’t “put the idea in their head” — most will be relieved someone starts a conversation

  8. Certain medications used to treat depression or stabilize mood have been proven to help people reduce suicidal thoughts and behavior

  9. If someone can get through the intense, and short, moment of active suicidal crisis, chances are they will not die by suicide

  10. Most people who survive a suicide attempt (85 to 95 percent) go on to engage in life

As parents and guardians, we question whether our teen is struggling with a mental health disorder or if their behavior is “normal teen behavior.” We are here to share consistent warning signs to look out for in order to keep our kids safe.

The acronym we use to remember these warning signs is FACTS:

Feelings

  • Hopelessness--feeling like things are bad and won't get any better

  • Fear of losing control, going crazy, harming oneself or others

  • Helplessness--a belief that there's nothing that can make life better

  • Worthlessness--feeling useless and of no value

  • Self-hate, guilt, or shame

  • Extreme sadness or loneliness

  • Anxiety or worry

Actions

  • Drug or alcohol abuse

  • Talking or writing about death or destruction

  • Aggression

  • Recklessness

Changes

  • Personality--behaving like a different person, becoming withdrawn, feeling tired all the time, not caring about anything, or becoming more talkative or outgoing

  • Behavior--inability to concentrate

  • Sleeping pattern--sleeping all the time or not being able to sleep

  • Eating habits--loss of appetite and/or overeating

  • Losing interest in friends, hobbies, personal appearance

  • Sudden improvement after a period of being down or withdrawn

Threats

  • Statements like "How long does it take to bleed to death?"

  • Threats like "I won't be around much longer" or "You'd be better off without me"

  • Making plans, such as studying about ways to die or obtaining the means to self-inflict injury or death

  • Suicide attempts

Situations

  • Getting into trouble at school, at home, or with the law

  • Recent losses

  • Changes in life that feel overwhelming

  • Being exposed to suicide or the death of a peer under any circumstances


Click Here To Download The Full Guide


How can we help our teens and take action when we feel they are at risk?


  • Provide access to mental health care, and be proactive about mental health

  • Help them connect to family and community support

  • Provide problem-solving and coping skills

  • Limit access to lethal means

  • Provide cultural and/or religious beliefs that encourage connecting and help-seeking, discourage suicidal behavior, create a strong sense of purpose and/or self-esteem

Thankfully there are also several resources available, hotlines, and confidential ways to ask for help:

Long Island crisis center: https://longislandcrisiscenter.org or 24/7 crisis hotline 516-679-1111. Crisis Chat Monday-Friday from 7pm-11pm

Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255 24/7 free and confidential support for people in distress

Your life Your voice: 1-800-448-3000 http://www.yourlifeyourvoice.org

Call, text, chat, or email

Safe Place: Text: 4HELP (44357)

https://www.nationalsafeplace.org

Receive a message with the closest Safe Place site and phone number for the local youth agency.


You don't have to go through this alone. Our team of compassionate clinicians specialize in working with adolescence and have the training to guide each individual to adequate care and treatment.


Written by Clinical Director, Reisa Villani, LCSW



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