It’s devastating to report, but the CDC says that suicide is the third leading cause of death for kids ages 10 to 24. According to experts at EIRMC's Behavioral Heatlh Center, two recurring themes drive people to want to take their own lives:
- Feeling like they don’t belong- this could be a result of a rejection, loss of a relationship, bullying or just feeling disconnected from peers.
- Feeling like a burden to others- this can happen with the diagnosis of a serious illness, death of a family member, divorce, shame brought onto themselves or those around them.
What Can You Do To Protect Your Kids?
1. Communicate and listen to your kids. People with suicidal thoughts often believe that nobody cares. Show them that this isn’t true. Being heard and understood can be a powerful antidote to feeling un-valued.
2. Look for signs of depression. Especially during the teen years, signs of depression can be overlooked. But don’t be in denial if you think your child may be depressed. If you see the signs, get your child professional help as soon as possible.
Warning Signs of Depression:
- Irritability or anger
- Vocal outbursts or crying
- Reduced ability or interest at home or with friends, in school, activities, and in hobbies
- Continuous feelings of sadness and hopelessness
- Social withdrawal
- Increased sensitivity to rejection
- Changes in appetite (either more or less)
- Changes in sleep (either more or less)
- Difficulty concentrating
- Fatigue and low energy
3. Have open conversations about bullying. Explore what your child should do if they are being bullied. The worst thing is to be bullied and for no one to know. Social media has created a dangerous new problem called cyber-bullying. Examples include sharing incriminating photos or secrets of someone else, spreading rumors, or just plain mean, threatening, and abusive comments about another teen’s looks, weight, or self -worth.
Cyber-bullying is different because once targeted, it’s hard for kids to get away from it. It goes on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
4. Monitor social media activity and establish clear rules on internet and phone use. To keep your child safe, balance your child’s need for independence with your parental responsibility to keep them safe. Have clear rules about internet and cell phone use, like requiring that you have access to their gadgets at all times.
If you’d like to talk about concerns for your child, call the EIRMC Behavioral Health Center at (800) 483-4732.