The warning signs of teenage suicide
By: By Don Harold Lawrence
Some of the circumstances, events and changes that create stress, unhappiness, pressures and fear in teenagers are: family conflicts; death of a family member or friend; major failure or success; fear of the future; suicide attempt or completion by a known person; previous suicide attempt; assuming guilt about family conflict; feeling ignored; pressure to succeed; difficulty in handling peer pressure; change in residence; trouble with the law; personal injury; chronic illness of self or family member; remarriage of a parent or marriage of a sibling; loss of a job which causes financial stress; change of residency; beginning or ending of school or vacation from school; break-up with boyfriend or girlfriend; recent death or suicide of a family member or friend; and loss of a pet.
If we observe one or more of the following factors in regard to a teenager we should be concerned because these are traditional warning signs regarding suicide: chronic intense anger; a noticeable change in behavior that continues for an extended period of time; a change in eating habits; verbal clues that indicate the person is preoccupied with suicide; describing specific ways they might commit suicide; threatening to commit suicide; having a weapon; having previously attempted suicide; giving away personal possessions; depression that continues for an extended period of time and is accompanied by a change of behavior and speech; schizophrenia (loss of contact with the environment; disintegration of personality expressed as disorder of feeling, thought and conduct); use of drugs and alcohol; if the person has undergone some type of personal crisis; unwanted pregnancy; abortion; withdrawal from family, friends and activities; saying good-bye to family and friends; running away from home; lack of interest in personal appearance; displaying aggressive, assaultive or destructive behavior; a change in sleep habits; physical complaints (headaches, stomach aches); impulsive behavior; a drop in grades and repeated absence from school; the feeling that one is a failure; feeling ignored; feeling guilty; an inability to express one’s feelings; fear of the future; and conflicts in relationships.
Be aware of verbal clues and take them very seriously. For example: “I can’t stand it any longer. I wish I were dead. I’m going to put an end to it all. I won’t be around much longer. There’s nothing to look forward to any more.”
Take it seriously if an individual is talking about how, when and where they plan to kill themself, and if they are thinking, reading, sketching or writing about death.
By being alert to the warning signs and clues and acting responsibly, we can attempt to intervene and possibly save an individual’s life.
Don Harold Lawrence is coordinator of SUNRISE, which is sponsored by Shackelford Corporation. He may be contacted by mail at 145 Abernathy Drive, Adamsville, TN 38310-3001 or by telephone or fax at (731) 632-4483. His Web address is www.shackelfordfuneraldirectors.com.
Published in The Messenger 5.1.08