Unanswered Questions: Recognize warning signs of teen suicide - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Unanswered Questions: Recognize warning signs of teen suicide

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Studies show that four out of five teen suicide attempts are preceded by clear warning signs.  It is important to note a warning sign does not mean your child will attempt suicide, but it is vital that parents or friends do not ignore the warning signs.  Often times a threat is dismissed as simply a cry for attention.  

Below are warning signs to look out for:

  • Changes in personality: sadness, withdrawal, irritability, anxiety, exhaustion, indecision
  • Changes in behavior: deterioration in social relationships and school and/or work performance, reduced involvement in positive activities
  • Sleep disturbance: insomnia, oversleeping; nightmares
  • Changes in eating habits: loss of appetite, weight loss or overeating
  • Fear of losing control: erratic behavior, harming self or others

There are also certain situations and conditions associated with an increased risk of teen suicide:

  • Previous suicide attempt(s)
  • Mental health disorders (depression, anxiety)
  • Alcohol and other substance abuse
  • Feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, guilt, loneliness, worthlessness or low self-esteem
  • Loss of interest in friends, hobbies, or activities previously enjoyed
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Bullying or being a bully at school or in social settings
  • Disruptive behavior, including disciplinary problems at school or at home
  • High risk behaviors (drinking and driving, poor decision-making)
  • Recent/serious loss (death, divorce, separation, broken romantic relationship, etc.)
  • Family history of suicide
  • Family violence (domestic violence, child abuse or neglect)
  • Sexual orientation and identity confusion (lack of support or bullying during the coming out process)
  • Access to lethal means like firearms, pills, knives or illegal drugs
  • Stigma associated with seeking mental health services
    • Barriers to accessing mental health services (lack of bilingual service providers, unreliable transportation, financial costs)


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