Health & Wellness

Guest Column

Learning the Warning Signs to Prevent Teen Suicides

Maria Sikoutris Di Iorio, MA, EdS, MFT, LPC, is Clinical Director of Hellenic Therapy Center.

Losing a child to suicide is one of the most devastating, heartbreaking and life changing events that impact a family’s life forever. Parents, siblings, family, friends and community are all affected by the loss and our community mourns.

How can teen suicides be prevented? 

Parents question and blame themselves for not having seen the warning signs. Understanding the issues concerning suicide and mental health is an important way to take part in suicide prevention. We can be the most involved parent and have experienced the best conversations with our children over time, yet this tragedy can strike regardless.   

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However, it is essential that we begin to talk about these issues with our children. It is a myth that asking about suicide increases the risk of suicide. If your teen is struggling with depression, loss, bullying or trauma, ask where their mind goes when they are feeling very badly. Let your teen know that you will not panic if they tell you the truth. Reassure them that you are there to help. You can ask “Are you feeling hopeless and helpless that you think of killing yourself”?

What are some of the warning signs?

  • Threatening to hurt or kill oneself or talking about wanting to hurt oneself,
  • Looking for ways to kill oneself by seeking access to firearms, pills,
  • Talking or writing about death,
  • Feelings of rage,
  • Sleeping too much or too little,
  • Feeling anxious
  • Depression,
  • History of abuse or trauma,
  • Agitation and mood changes,
  • Loss of interest in school activities, 
  • Loss of interest in daily activities, and
  • Increase in alcohol or drug use.

It is also helpful to be aware of past family history and know about mental disorders or family history of suicide. Provide and offer help to your child.  Let them know that talking through their feelings could be very helpful and seek immediate professional help. The National Suicide Hotline 1-800-273-8255 provide 24/7 assistance.

At the Hellenic Therapy Center, 567 Park Avenue, Scotch Plains, we offer individual, family, couple, adolescent, children therapy.  We are available day, evening and weekend hours. We have a team of licensed professionals who can assist you through a difficult time. Visit us on Facebook or or call 908-322-0112.

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of or anyone who works for is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer. Click here to submit a Guest Column.

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