Teen suicide rates in Idaho have gone up over the last several years, and this is a trend that is quite concerning. Parents need all the help they can get to learn how to spot the signs that their teen may be considering ending their life. But it helps to know the reasons why so many young people in Idaho make this decision.
Research tells us that suicide is the second leading cause of death for Idahoans between the ages of 15 and 34 years old. Fortunately, there are warning signs and if parents know what to look for, there may be many opportunities to intervene before it is too late.
The Top 10 Reasons Teens in Idaho Commit Suicide
There are a lot of reasons why teenagers may consider suicide to be the only solution to their problems. We have come up with a list of ten of them to help parents as they watch for signs of suicidal ideation in their own children.
1. Feeling Hopeless and Helpless
Many teens commit suicide because of the devastating feelings of hopelessness and helplessness. They may be facing situations that seem to have no solutions. In their minds, there is no way out for them other than death.
Although there are always solutions to life’s problems, for many teenagers, those solutions may seem impossible to grasp. They may be hesitant to go to others to get the help they need, and suicide appears to be the answer.
2. Dying as a Way of Escaping Emotional Pain
As teens grow, their emotions become more mature with every passing year. But before they reach that place of maturity, their emotions can seem all-encompassing. So many teens struggle with feelings of rejection, pain and hurt. They may feel as though they are unloved, and some may have lost a loved one or a close friend.
When a young person’s emotional capabilities have not matured, it can be nearly impossible to find a way to process how they feel. When so much emotional pain has built up over time, teens may see no way out other than suicide.
3. Worry About Disappointing the People they Love
The teen years are traditionally a time when a lot of rebellion takes place. But even when a young person is rebelling, they may still have concerns about disappointing the people they love. These disappointments can be as big getting fired from a job or as small as failing a math quiz. A lot of teens crave attention and praise from their parents, and sadly, they do not always receive it.
For teens, feeling as though they are a disappointment can quickly cause them to start having suicidal thoughts and ideas. In their minds, they may only be attempting to eliminate that risk, and they may even think their actions are justified.
4. Feeling as Though They are a Burden
The teen years can be extremely difficult for families. Teenagers struggle as much as their parents to communicate with each other and maintain some semblance of happiness at home. Young people who are more sensitive than others may constantly worry about being a burden to their parents.
Feeling as though they are a burden can translate into any number of situations. Some teens may worry that their parents cannot afford to take care of them if they are facing financial difficulties. If they are constantly coming to their parents with personal problems, they may think that makes them a burden as well.
5. Bullying and Cyberbullying
Both bullying and cyberbullying can have lasting effects that can lead some teens to consider committing suicide. The CDC defines bullying as, “…unwanted, aggressive behavior among school-aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time.”
Any form of bullying can have serious and lasting effects on the mental health of teens. This goes for those who are being bullied as well as for those who are doing the bullying. It is a problem that has gotten way out of hand, and it has led many Idaho teens to commit suicide.
6. Struggling with Victimization
So many teens have been the victims of physical, sexual and emotional abuse, and sometimes their parents are completely unaware. These adolescents are two to three times more likely to attempt suicide than those who have not been victims.
This is also the case when a teen suffered some form of abuse as a child. When the situation is ignored either out of ignorance by the parents or simply because the young person seems OK, the risks are compounded. Their risk of suicide will continue to increase throughout their life.
7. Struggling with a Mental Illness
Quite often, teens commit suicide because they are struggling with some type of mental illness. There are many of them that could be to blame, such as:
- Bipolar disorder
- Borderline personality disorder
- Eating disorders
Any mental health condition only serves to amplify the way the young person feels about themselves. But because of their age, they may not have any idea that what they are experiencing is a treatable condition. A lot parents are completely unaware that their teens have any signs of mental illness at all.
8. Feelings of Defeat
As some teens get older, they may begin to struggle with feelings of defeat. They may notice that their friends are making plans for their adult lives, but if they themselves lack direction, it can become a serious problem.
So many teenagers feel defeated because they worry that they will never amount to anything. They may long for their parents to be proud of them, but experiencing that may seem to be completely out of reach. In these cases, suicide may appear to be the only answer that makes sense.
9. Being Rejected
Unfortunately, the teenage years are wrought with rejection and opportunities for it. A lot of teens feel rejected by their parents because they are struggling to become individuals. That can become amplified when friends and potential love interests reject them as well.
It is normal for teens to seek approval from outside sources. This is all a part of growing up. But if that approval is not received, it can have devastating consequences and even lead to thoughts of suicide.
10. Feelings of Being Alone
Without a doubt, being a teenager is one of the most difficult phases of life. A lot of teens feel very alone, isolated or set apart in some way. But it can be nearly impossible to get them to admit that they need help.
The world we live in today gives teens plenty of opportunities to communicate with others. But if attempts to do so are not rewarded, it can be easy to slip into a period of feeling down and depressed. They can begin to believe that they are unwanted, which can raise thoughts of suicide.
What Can Parents do to Prevent Suicide?
So many parents are shocked to find out that their teens have taken their own lives. In many cases, they never saw any warning signs. When it happened, it took them completely by surprise and of course, they were overcome with grief.
But there are several things that parents can do to prevent teen suicide.
1. Consider that Professional Treatment May be Necessary
Teens with mental health issues may not be able to recognize them as such. In their minds, everyone feels the way they do, but they may feel inadequate at controlling their symptoms. That can cause them to feel even more withdrawn, and at this point, it is important for parents to intervene.
Teenagers who are depressed will often retreat from their families, stating that they prefer to be alone. They may be embarrassed about what they are going through and how they feel. But this is the time when parents need to be proactive. Talking with them about what they are going through is critical, and it is always a good idea to consider therapy.
2. Pay Close Attention When Communication is Lacking
Some teenagers will provide clues about what they are thinking through their actions and behaviors. One common trait in teen suicide is a lack of communication between the child and the parents. Many parents are tempted to think of their child as being a “moody teenager,” but it could be so much more than that.
When there is a breakdown in communication between teens and parents, there is generally a reason. It could be because the adolescent has started to use drugs or alcohol. It could be that they have suffered a major loss, as well as a number of other reasons. But it is up to the parent to bridge that gap.
3. Do Not Ignore Threats of Suicide
Some teens will make verbal or written statements about how they want to die. Saying that they no longer care about anything is a clear sign that suicide may be something they are considering. There is some research that suggests that suicidal threats are nothing more than cries for help. But that does not mean that they should ever be ignored.
When teenagers make statements like, “Nothing matters anymore,” or “Everyone would be better off without me,” parents need to pay attention. These statements are cries for help, and it is up to them to intervene.
4. Talk About Their Own Feelings
As we mentioned previously, loneliness is one of the key indicators of suicidal thoughts. While it might not be the same as if it came from a peer, parents should eagerly share their own thoughts and feelings with their teens.
Letting a teenager know that they are not alone is so important. Parents can reassure their kids that the bad feelings will not last forever and that they are there to provide them with support.
5. Make the Home a Safe Space
In 2013, suicide by firearms among America’s youth topped a 12-year high. Most families that keep guns and other weapons in the home are careful to teach their kids about safety. But a gun that is easily accessible gives teens an easy way to follow through on their suicidal ideations.
It is so important to make sure that all firearms are locked in a safe that cannot be opened by anyone but the parents. It may even be necessary to remove them from the home completely.
Ashwood Recovery in Nampa, Idaho: Our Adolescent Day Treatment Program
At Ashwood Recovery in Nampa, our focus is on teen mental health. So many parents are unable to see the signs of suicidal ideation until it is too late. A lot of them are completely unaware that their teenager is struggling, and our goal is to help.
We offer teens a safe and therapeutic environment where they can get the support they need. Our day treatment program provides them with help for any mental health or substance abuse issues they may be facing. We offer a number of different services, including:
- Individual therapy sessions
- Case management services
- Group therapy
- Psychiatric care
- Family therapy
Teens who participate in our program are with us for a minimum of 30 hours per week. They come five days a week and six hours each day. While they are with us, we keep them fairly busy with therapy sessions, and we regularly meet with families to discuss the child’s progress.
Teens are at Risk for Suicide and Help is Available in Idaho Today
Nothing can compare to the pain of losing a child to suicide. At Ashwood Recovery, we want to do everything we can to prevent families from having to go through that. Our program is designed to be tailored to the needs of each teen we work with. We want them to have hope for the future and to know that someone is always there.
Are you concerned about your teen’s possible suicidal thoughts? Please do not hesitate to contact us today.