A teen’s emotions may vary moment by moment and may mask some of the symptoms of mental illness. Being sad for more than two weeks is not normal. Other symptoms of mental illness can include thinking difficulties or problems focusing attention, extreme emotional highs and lows, sleep problems, difficulty with social relationships, withdrawing and not participating in activities.
It is important to know that early intervention and support are crucial to improving mental health. To learn more about specific mental health disabilities, such as psychosis, schizophrenia, eating or anxiety disorders Click Here; an overview of each disability, with treatment and supports is listed on the Nami.org website.
The National Alliance of Mental Illness of Palm Beach County provides support, education and advocacy to empower people with mental illness and their families. Their programs and services are for everyone. For their website Click Here to find specific support programs available. You can also contact NAMI PBC at 561-588-3477.
Should you see signs of depression or suicide in your teenager, get professional help! NAMI has provided the following information regarding the risk and warning signs of suicide. Click Here for their website.
Risk of Suicide
If you or someone you know is in an emergency, call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or call 911 immediately. Click Here for their website
Suicidal thoughts or behaviors are both damaging and dangerous and are therefore considered a psychiatric emergency. Someone experiencing these thoughts should seek immediate assistance from a health or mental health care provider. Having suicidal thoughts does not mean someone is weak or flawed. According to the CDC, suicide rates have increased by 30% since 1999. Nearly 45,000 lives were lost to suicide in 2016 alone. Click Here for the CDC website
Know the Warning Signs
- Threats or comments about killing themselves, also known as suicidal ideation, can begin with seemingly harmless thoughts like “I wish I wasn’t here” but can become more overt and dangerous
- Increased alcohol and drug use
- Aggressive behavior
- Social withdrawal from friends, family and the community
- Dramatic mood swings
- Talking, writing or thinking about death
- Impulsive or reckless behavior
Is There Imminent Danger?
Any person exhibiting these behaviors should get care immediately:
- Putting their affairs in order and giving away their possessions
- Saying goodbye to friends and family
- Mood shifts from despair to calm
- Planning, possibly by looking around to buy, steal or borrow the tools they need to complete suicide, such as a firearm or prescription medication
Risk Factors for Suicide
Research has found that more than half of people (54%) who died by suicide did not have a known mental health condition. Click Here for more information from the CDC website.
A number of other things may put a person at risk of suicide, including:
- A family history of suicide.
- Substance abuse. Drugs and alcohol can result in mental highs and lows that exacerbate suicidal thoughts.
- Intoxication. More than one in three people who die from suicide are found to be currently under the influence.
- Access to firearms.
- A serious or chronic medical illness.
- Gender. Although more women than men attempt suicide, men are four times more likely to die by suicide.
- A history of trauma or abuse.
- Prolonged stress.
- Age. People under age 24 or above age 65 are at a higher risk for suicide.
- A recent tragedy or loss.
- Agitation and sleep deprivation.
Can Thoughts of Suicide Be Prevented?
Mental health professionals are trained to help a person understand their feelings and can improve mental wellness and resiliency. Depending on their training they can provide effective ways to help.
Psychotherapy such as cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavior therapy, can help a person with thoughts of suicide recognize unhealthy patterns of thinking and behavior, validate troubling feelings, and learn coping skills.
Medication can be used if necessary to treat underlying depression and anxiety and can lower a person’s risk of hurting themselves. Depending on the person’s mental health diagnosis, other medications can be used to alleviate symptoms.