This Article seeks to provide information on the following:
- The risk factors and warning signs of teenage suicide
- Myths and misconceptions about teenage suicide attempts
- Traditional, emerging, and alternative treatment options for suicide attempts
- Supporting a suicidal teen
- Recovery and follow-up care after a suicide attempt
The alarming reality of teenagers attempting suicide is a deeply distressing situation many parents and caregivers have to grapple with. It is a serious concern, and it’s crucial to approach this issue with sensitivity and informed strategies.
At Key Healthcare, we understand these unique challenges and offer a specialized program at our Teen Residential Treatment Center (RTC) focused on aiding serious mental health challenges, such as attempted suicide, that can’t be managed at home or in an outpatient setting. The program, designed for teen suicidal ideation treatment, provides a safe and supportive environment for teens to recover from suicide attempts and other mental health challenges. Highly trained professionals and staff members are available round-the-clock to cater to the needs of each teen.
In this article, we will delve into the topic of suicide attempts among teenagers and also provide valuable insights into effective Residential treatment options.
Understanding Teen Suicide
A suicide attempt is when one injures oneself intending to end their life but (thankfully) does not succeed. Teenage suicide and suicide attempts have been on the rise and are a cause of concern for many families.
The first step in coming up with effective strategies for overcoming teenage suicide attempts is having a good understanding of what prompts suicide attempts. What are some risk factors, warning signs, and misconceptions about teen suicides?
The Prevalence of Teen Suicide
Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. The National Vital Statistics System Mortality data (2021) named suicide the third leading cause of death among 15-19-year-olds. The number of deaths recorded from 2018-2021 was 2,343 in this age group – quite a large number depicting the severity of the issue.
The statistics for suicide thoughts and attempts are even higher and are most prevalent among teens and young adults. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, about 11% of young adults report serious suicidal thoughts. The percentage is quite high among high school students, with 20% reporting suicidal thoughts.
Although these numbers are alarming, not all hope is lost. We can avert tragedy if we recognize and support teens predisposed to certain risk factors that may push them toward suicide attempts.
Risk Factors for Teen Suicide
The following are some factors that increase the risk of a teen attempting suicide.
- Previous suicide attempts
- A history of suicidal behavior in the family
- Mental health issues like severe depression
- Serious family issues
- Teen Substance abuse
- Breakups or other significant relationship setbacks
- Social exclusion
- Exposure to traumatic experiences like sexual violence, bullying, and racism
Warning Signs of Teen Suicide
Risk factors may increase the risk of a teen attempting suicide, but there are also warning signs that indicate an escalated and more acute risk of suicide. They include;
- Inflicting self-harm
- Talking or joking about death and the meaninglessness of life
- Extreme emotions of anger and sadness
- Withdrawal from loved ones and posting “goodbye” messages
- Talking about being a burden to others
- Increased substance abuse
Myths and Misconceptions about Teen Suicide
Teen suicide is a topic that is not often discussed as no one wants to see it as something that would happen to one of their loved ones. It is simply a subject ignored, so a lot of misinformation makes the situation worse and more difficult to prevent.
One of the most common misconceptions is that teens who attempt suicide are just attention seekers. This is a wrong perception, and it is always crucial to take them seriously as it is often a call out for help.
Another misconception is that talking to teens about suicide only increases the risk. Nothing could be further from the truth. With the right approach, conversations about suicide may help the teen to be more open to seeking help.
It is also a misconceived notion that teenage suicide results from careful planning. On the contrary, suicide attempts may be an impulsive action out of a stressful event.
Residential Treatment is Effective in Overcoming Teen Suicidal Behavior
Suppose a teen has attempted suicide or is threatening to commit suicide. In that case, it is crucial to intervene in time to offer much-needed help, and several traditional treatment options can assist them in the Key Healthcare Residential treatment center for teens.
Traditional treatments typically involve a combination of psychotherapy, medication, hospitalization and inpatient care, and support groups. These approaches are often used in conjunction to provide an effective treatment process.
Psychotherapy for Teen Suicide
Psychotherapy, sometimes known as talk therapy, is a number of interventions designed to assist a patient in recognizing and altering unhelpful feelings, ideas, and actions. The therapy is conducted by a qualified professional who meets one-on-one with the patient or in a group setting.
Psychotherapy is backed by various scientific research and may effectively address the underlying mental health issues contributing to suicide attempts. Several psychotherapies that have been effective over the years include the following;
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Teen Suicide
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) focuses on helping teenagers identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviors that may contribute to their suicidal thoughts. CBT helps them develop healthy coping mechanisms and strategies to manage stress, depression in teens, and other related issues.
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy
Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) is one of the evidence-based clinical modalities utilized in the residential treatment center at Key Healthcare. DBT is a modified type of cognitive behavioral therapy that teaches teenagers how to control impulses and emotions, which are factors that contribute to suicidal behaviors. This also improves their relationships with others, helping them live happier lives.
Interpersonal Therapy for Teen Suicide
This form of therapy focuses on addressing interpersonal difficulties and relationship issues. It helps teenagers develop healthier communication and problem-solving skills, improve relationships, and resolve conflicts.
Family-Based Therapy for Teen Suicide
Underlying family issues may cause suicide ideation, and family-based therapy is ideal for addressing any underlying family dynamics or issues contributing to the teenager’s suicidal ideation. The residential treatment center for teenagers also incorporates a family-centered treatment that aims to improve communication, strengthen relationships, and create a supportive environment for the teenager.
Medications for Teen Suicide
Medications can also be helpful in the treatment plans for teenagers who have attempted suicide, but it is a slippery slope that needs to be scaled with caution.
Medications like antidepressants, antipsychotics, and mood stabilizers can be prescribed to help manage the symptoms associated with depression, mood changes, and anxiety, reducing the risk of suicide attempts. Although helpful, such medications come with FDA warnings about the risk of increased suicidal thinking. The warning is not meant to deter and frighten people but only serves as a caution to weigh the pros and cons of using such medications.
The specific medication used varies depending on the specific needs of the teenager. It is crucial to note that a qualified healthcare professional should only prescribe and monitor medication. The families, guardians, caregivers, and the teenager should also be given a detailed review of the potential risks associated with the medications to make an informed decision.
Hospitalization and Inpatient Care for Teen Suicide
Hospitalization and in-patient care are the appropriate levels of care for teens at immediate risk of suicide. The residential treatment center at Key Healthcare provides a safe environment where the teen receives more intensive therapy and psychiatric care and is constantly supervised. The program harnesses the coastal location of the center in Malibu, Los Angeles, to incorporate mind-body focus techniques and the healing power of the ocean, promoting overall well-being.
Support Groups for Teen Suicide
Support groups provide a safe space for teenagers to connect with others with similar experiences and share their thoughts and feelings without fear of judgment. They can offer emotional support and encouragement to help teenagers feel less isolated and more understood. Treatment at the residential treatment center also incorporates teen group therapy to help them overcome their mental and emotional challenges.
Emerging Teen Suicide Treatments
Emerging treatments are newer therapeutic approaches being explored as possible solutions for addressing suicidal suicide attempts among teenagers. The approaches are promising and may provide valuable options for effectively treating teenagers who have attempted suicide.
Technology-Based Solutions for Teen Suicide
As much as technology, and in some cases technology addiction in youth, has contributed to increased rates of teenage suicide attempts, the same technology may be used to offer solutions to teenagers who may have suicide ideation. Examples include smartphone applications, online platforms, and other digital resources that aim to provide information, guidance, and support to teenagers who are at risk of suicide.
Complementary and Alternative Therapies for Teen Suicide
Alternative and complementary therapies are nontraditional therapeutic methods that may be used in conjunction with or as an alternative to traditional treatment methods.
Examples of complementary and alternative therapies include;
Supporting a Suicidal Teenager
Teenagers with suicidal ideations require help from everyone, and parents, guardians, and caregivers need to know how to support them effectively. It’s essential to approach the situation with empathy, compassion, and a non-judgmental attitude to ensure support is helpful.
How to Talk to a Suicidal Teen
When talking to a suicidal teen, it’s essential to approach the conversation with sensitivity and care. Let’s explore some general guidelines for communicating with a suicidal teenager:
Dos and Don’ts of Communicating with a Suicidal Teen
- Listen carefully and intently: Give them undivided attention and avoid interrupting or dismissing their thoughts and feelings.
- Express empathy and understanding: Show them you genuinely care about their feelings and struggles.
- Validate their emotions: Acknowledge and let them know it is okay to feel that way.
- Offer them hope that things will eventually get better.
- Do not blame or shame: This can aggravate their feelings of guilt, leading them further down the drain.
- Do not belittle or dismiss their feelings.
- Do not offer simplistic and quick solutions because suicide attempt is a complex issue that requires professional support.
Encouraging a Suicidal Teen to Seek Professional Help
Sometimes, the unique challenges facing teenagers in the contemporary world may be difficult to understand for people brought up in a completely different era. Professional help is the best option, but how do you encourage them to seek professional help?
You should first address any myths and misconceptions concerning seeking professional help. Some teens may have fears about being judged and stigmatized for seeking professional help. Assure them that mental health professionals are well-trained to provide adequate support while maintaining confidentiality. Let them know that seeking professional help is normal and provide information on types of professional support as well as their benefits.
Most importantly, be patient and persistent with them because it may require multiple conversations before they can agree to seek professional help.
After a Suicidal Attempt: Recovery and Follow-Up Care
Part of the process of further suicide prevention includes recovery and follow-up care after a suicidal attempt. Treatment is intended to be long-term, and there are special considerations for recovery and follow-up care.
Addressing Physical and Emotional Needs After a Suicide Attempt
Recovering from a suicidal attempt can be a complex and challenging process for a teenager. It is essential to address both physical and emotional needs during this time.
The first priority should be providing medical care to address any physical issues that may result from the suicide attempt. If they are in good physical condition, the next process would be providing an enabling environment for emotional healing. The environment should encourage communication and is non-judgemental. Providing a good environment may also include addressing issues that may have contributed to the suicide attempt, including family issues, stress, or substance abuse. Identifying such issues may help come up with effective coping mechanisms.
Overcoming suicide attempts is a complex and serious issue that requires compassionate and professional support for teenagers. The journey to recovery can be challenging, but there is hope for complete recovery with the right treatment options.
Various treatment options are available for teens struggling with suicidal thoughts or behaviors, and seeking professional help can make a significant difference in a teenager’s recovery journey. It’s also important to remember that recovery from suicide attempts takes time. Patience, understanding, and support from loved ones are essential elements of the healing process.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What can schools and communities do to prevent teenage suicide?
Schools and communities can prevent teenage suicide in many ways. For instance, they can play a huge role by providing mental health education for teenagers to be aware of issues affecting their mental health. Schools can also facilitate access to professional help by hiring professional psychologists, counselors, and therapists to support teenagers with mental health issues.
How long does it typically take for a teenager to recover from a suicide attempt?
The time a teenager takes to recover depends on multiple factors, like the underlying mental health issue, the nature of the attempt, the type of treatment, and the individual’s support system. In some instances, physical healing may be faster than psychological and emotional healing, which may take longer. The recovery may also not be linear as setbacks may make the recovery period longer.
How can parents and caregivers best care for their own mental health while supporting a suicidal teenager?
Taking care of a suicidal teenager may be draining and affect the caregiver’s mental health. To avoid this, seeking help from professionals and trusted friends is crucial. You should also educate yourself on the issues concerning suicide attempts as it may help you support the teenager better. Setting boundaries is also essential to avoid taking more than you can handle.
What role do peer relationships and social support play in reducing teenage suicide risk?
Peer relationships and social support help reduce teenage suicide risk by offering a safe space to connect with peers with similar experiences. They can express their feelings without fear of judgment.
What should parents and caregivers do if a teenager threatens suicide?
The first thing should be to take the threat seriously and engage in open, non-judgmental communication. They should then remove potential means of suicide like firearms and medications. After this, they should seek help from trusted friends, family members, and qualified mental health professionals to develop effective strategies to address the situation.
What are some healthy coping mechanisms for suicidal teenagers?
Healthy coping mechanisms include engaging in physical activities like sports and exercises. Meditation is also another coping mechanism that can help address emotional issues. Another way is expressing emotions through creativity, like singing, painting, and writing, helping them process their thoughts.