Teenage Depression & Suicide

What Parents Need to Know about Their Greatest Fear

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  • Suicide is the third leading cause of death for teenagers¹
  • 16% of high school students self-report that they have considered suicide
  • On average, 25 suicide attempts precede a successful commitment
  • Though males commit suicide more frequently, females self-report more attempts
  • Only 1/5 of teenagers seek treatment for depression
  • Over 95% of those who commit suicide have a treatable psychological disorder at the time of their death²

Emergency Signs

  • Withdrawal from social, familial circles
  • Rapid gain or loss of weight
  • Lethargy
  • Change in posture, way the adolescent carries himself/herself
  • Hypersomnia
  • Apathy in previous interests
  • Self-mutilation

HOWEVER—it is crucial to realize that once an adolescent becomes suicidal, the individual may exhibit no symptoms. When someone decides that he/she is going to commit suicide, his/her main goal is to conceal any signs in order to prevent anyone from intervening.

How Do You Make a Difference?

Creating an open line of communication is key to the teenager's treatment; however, parents need to understand that their adolescent may not feel comfortable speaking to their parents about the issues that are bothering him/her. If such is the case, encourage your adolescent to begin seeking counsel with whomever he/she trusts, whether that counsel be a family friend, a religious figure, or a professional.

Additionally, you should be open to the possibility of medical intervention. Depression is a complex issue that also originates from the adolescent's neurochemical makeup; thus, having your teen's physician prescribe an anti-depressant has the potential to decrease symptoms.

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Why Should You Intervene?

In February 2015, a study was done that illustrated the impact of adolescent depression throughout life, and researchers found that those who could be diagnosed with depression between ages 9-16, without proper treatment, are more likely to develop major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and social phobias. Those studied never had the chance to learn coping skills, develop self-confidence, etc., and they continue to suffer into adulthood.³


[1] 11 Facts About Suicide. (n.d.). Retrieved March 27, 2015, from https://www.dosomething.org/facts/11-facts-about-suicide

[2] What are the Most Recent Teen Suicide Statistics? (2015, February 22). Retrieved March 27, 2015, from http://nobullying.com/teen-suicide-statistics/

[3] McLaughlin, K. A., & King, K. (2015). Developmental trajectories of anxiety and depression in early adolescence.Journal Of Abnormal Child Psychology, 43(2), 311-323. doi:10.1007/s10802-014-9898-1