Severe depression dramatically increases the likelihood of a suicide attempt. While roughly one percent of teens attempt suicide, between 15% and 30% of teens with severe depression try to take their lives. In all likelihood, these incidences are dramatically underreported. For every teen who takes his own life, hundreds of others fail in their attempts.
We all need to know the warning signs. Chief among them are dramatic changes in eating and sleeping patterns and social withdrawal. Also, if a teen makes any reference to suicide, it needs to be taken seriously. Even jokes that seem innocuous should not be taken lightly.
Unfortunately, most family members feel uncomfortable talking about death. Parents may wait for a child to come to them. But then it may be too late. If someone you love is exhibiting the warning signs, talk to them. Ask them if they think about suicide. Even if they seem indifferent, this will reassure them that you are aware of their problem and that you care. Agree to give support, but never agree to keep the conversation confidential. You must be a parent, not a best friend. This is what your child needs from you during such difficult circumstances.
You should also seek immediate assistance from a qualified professional. There is also a National Suicide Helpline - 1-800-SUICIDE. All calls are completely confidential. This disease is far more common than most of us realize. It does not matter if you seem to have an ideal family. Severe depression can strike anyone. If you suspect suicidal thoughts, you need to take the risk of getting involved.
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