It doesn’t seem like that long ago that I posted about a family friend who took her life. Just last week, a teenage girl who went to high school with my daughter took her own life. Evidently she hung herself at her home the day of prom.
It’s hard to imagine how much despair she felt in her life that she resorted to such an act. I am sure it seemed like such an easy way out. An option that would enable her to escape the pain she felt in what was likely a difficult life marked by divorce and family issues.
Since I’m friends with my kids on Facebook (though sometimes they refer to me as a “creeper”), I saw that they “liked” a page someone set up in the young girl’s memory. Here’s what it said (I will change the name of the deceased to respect her identity):
“Learn from this. Katie was loved. She was adored. In just a short matter of time she couldn’t take it anymore. She isn’t the only person who felt this way. If you see changes in one of your friends; TALK TO THEM. Let them vent to you. If they want to take their life TELL SOMEBODY. Look out for each other. She was beautiful, funny, creative and an amazing person. You never know what happens behind closed doors.”
Whomever wrote the post of Facebook was right. You have the keep the communication with your teens open. And you have to be observant as you monitor their behavior.
The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry suggests parents be mindful for the following signs from teens who might be contemplating suicide:
- change in eating and sleeping habits
- withdrawal from friends, family, and regular activities
- violent actions, rebellious behavior, or running away
- drug and alcohol use
- unusual neglect of personal appearance
- marked personality change
- persistent boredom, difficulty concentrating, or a decline in the quality of schoolwork
- frequent complaints about physical symptoms, often related to emotions, such as stomachaches, headaches, fatigue, etc.
- loss of interest in pleasurable activities
- not tolerating praise or rewards
A teenager who is planning to commit suicide may also:
- complain of being a bad person or feeling rotten inside
- give verbal hints with statements such as: I won’t be a problem for you much longer, Nothing matters, It’s no use, and I won’t see you again
- put his or her affairs in order, for example, give away favorite possessions, clean his or her room, throw away important belongings, etc.
- become suddenly cheerful after a period of depression
- have signs of psychosis (hallucinations or bizarre thoughts)
Give your kids a hug tonight, and every night, and reassure them that nothing is worth ending your life over.