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How to Identify a Suicidal Youth

Updated on May 16, 2016

How to Identify a Suicidal Youth

How to Identify a Suicidal Youth

In youth deaths, suicide is third in ages 15 to 25. The Suicide rate has doubled in kids’ ages 10 to 14 in the last 20 years. So we need to be attentive to the signs? I think we all should.

Suicide threats should always be taken seriously. Show support and avoid being judgmental. Predicting it not always possible but there is some signs. Most have told someone.

A big mistake is to ignore or minimize the signs. Denial is not going to take the situation away. To think that is just a phase or that he/she is just dramatic is not going to help any. Take a severe depression seriously. Those who have attempted suicide before, or have a family history of suicide, or who suffer from a mental-health disorder are at higher risk.

Suicide does not discriminate. It can be an Impulsive act or a ‘well thought out’ plan. All of us can help those experiencing suicidal thoughts. Emotional and practical support is key.

How to Identify a Suicidal Youth

How to Identify a Suicidal Youth

Giving things away
Giving things away

How to Identify a Suicidal Youth

Warning Signs

Giving things away

Withdrawal from family and friends.

Lost interest in activities previously thought to be pleasurable

Giving away prized possessions

Problem behaviour

Apathy in dress and grooming

Sudden change in weight

Withdrawal from social activities

Increased ‘accident prone’ incidents and self-harming behaviours.

Change in eating habits

Change in Sleeping pattern.

Change in personality

Drug or alcohol abuse.

Talking about how it would feel to die

Preoccupied with subjects related to death

Risk factors:

  • History of previous suicide attempts
  • Family history of suicide
  • History of depression or other mental illness
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Stressful life event or loss
  • Easy access to lethal methods
  • Exposure to the suicidal behavior of others
  • Incarceration
  • How to Identify a Suicidal Youth

How to Identify a Suicidal Youth


  • Loss through death, divorce,suicide of someone close to them
  • Incest or child abuse
  • Bullying
  • A sense of failure at school
  • A sense of failure in relationships
  • A break-up
  • Discrimination
  • Isolation
  • Relationship conflicts with family, friends
  • Feeling gay or lesbian and not knowing how to deal with it..

How to Identify a Suicidal Youth

What to do?

Talking about suicide will not encourage the act. If you suspect it, talk about it. If he/she admits to having suicidal thoughts, do not panic. Find out as much as possible. Has a plan been made if so, how detail is it? The more detail, the more urgent it is to get involve.

Suicide Prevention Hotlines:

1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) or
1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255)
24 hours a day
Research shows that adolescent suicides occur after school hours and in the teen's home.

How to Identify a Suicidal Youth

You may be able to help a young person if you:

  • Listen and encourage them to talk and show that you are taking their concerns seriously
  • Tell the person that you care
  • Acknowledge their fears, despair or sadness
  • Provide reassurance, but do not dismiss the problem
  • Ask if they are thinking of hurting or killing themselves, and if they have a plan
  • Point out the consequences of suicide for the person and those they leave behind
  • Ensure they do not have access to lethal weapons or medications
  • Stay with the person if they are at high risk of suicide
  • Immediately tell someone else, preferably an adult
  • Get help from professionals, offer to go with them to provide support
  • Let them know where they can get other help
  • Provide contact numbers and assist them to call if necessary


  • Interrupting with stories of your own
  • Panicking or becoming angry
  • Being judgmental
  • Offering too much advice.


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