The most common causes of teenage suicide include depression, substance abuse, and social isolation. Teen suicide risk factors include psychological disorders, feelings of worthlessness, a family history of suicide, bullying, and physical and sexual abuse. Warning signs include self-destructive behaviors, frequent talk about death or suicide, inability to concentrate, social withdrawal, and a loss of interest in favorite activities or foods. Teen suicide risk factors can be reduced through counseling, substance abuse intervention, and medication to control depression.
Some causes are related to family history and mental health. A teen whose father took his own life, for example, might consider suicide as a reasonable solution to life’s challenges. Teens with mental health issues, such as bipolar disorder, might commit suicide as part of an episode of depression. Some depressive conditions have genetic roots and heighten a teenager’s discontent with life.
Causes of teenage suicide also may include specific life events. A teenager who has been sexually abused might contemplate committing suicide to escape the memories of the traumatic event. Some teenagers live in violent households and view suicide as a way to escape feelings of perpetual fear. Homosexual teenagers who are met with hostile reactions from family and bullying from classmates sometimes consider taking their own lives to escape the constant rejection. A teenager who has just gone through the breakup of a relationship or other painful event may also be more prone to suicide without a social support system in place.
Teen suicide warning signs include a wide range of behaviors. An adolescent who is depressed might talk about suicide, death, or a desire to get away from it all. He might have trouble sleeping or he might avoid eating. Falling grades and an inability to concentrate are other signs. Self-destructive behaviors are also common, such as substance abuse, speeding, or picking fights with other teens or adults.
Parents, teachers, and others who notice the warning signs can take action by becoming familiar with the causes of teenage suicide. Talking to the teen about his difficulties is a good starting point. Arranging for him to talk with a professional counselor is often important for determining the cause of the suicidal thoughts and for delivering treatment. A skilled professional can prescribe medication to treat depression and other mental health issues that may be behind the suicidal tendencies. Substance abuse treatment is also an important way to eliminate one of the most common causes of teenage suicide.