While suicidal behavior can occur at any age, it’s the second-leading cause of death among 15- to 19-year-olds, an age when young people are making big decisions (What do I do with my life?), facing pressure, and dealing with other growing pains.
In honor of World Suicide Prevention Day, we’d like to offer some preventative measures to this age group, which seems to fall victim to tragedy far too often.
1. Recognize warning signs. It’s important to pinpoint stark changes in behavior, including:
- Prolonged depression, feelings of doom
- Suddenly giving away belongings
- Fixation on death
- Talk of suicide
2. Recognize risk factors. Certain character qualities are associated with suicide. Does this person:
- have a history of mental illness?
- have family stress/dysfunction?
- have substance-abuse issues?
3. Seek help. When it comes to friends who appear suicidal, don’t keep their secret quiet. The best means of helping a friend is talking to a counselor, professor, teacher, or other related figure, and coming up with a plan of how to help. Also, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is available 24 hours at 800-273-TALK (8255).