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Teen Suicide: The Warning Signs

Updated on September 23, 2012

suicide, teenage depression, and signs of depression in teens

Teenage depression can be a real killer. The amount of teens who attempt suicide each year in the U.S. is startling. How many are we talking about? The exact number is practically impossible to ascertain, but around 5,000 American teenagers kill themselves each year. Attempts far outnumber actual deaths, and many attempts are never reported. On average, one out of every five suicides attempted by teenagers results in death. More females attempt suicide, but more males are successful. Suicide is the third leading cause of death among American teens, and teenage depression is the major cause.

Most – but not all – teenagers contemplating taking their own life exhibit actions that can be considered warning signs. The most prevalent of these is depression. According to research conducted by the University of Texas, 75% of people who commit suicide suffer from depression, and this figure includes teens. Recognizing signs of depression is the first key to treating it and thereby, hopefully preventing suicide. There are many souces of help for troubled teens.

Signs of depression:

- One major sign of depression is disinterest. A lack of interest in friends, family, and activities might indicate that a teen is depressed. If your teenager begins staying in his room more than is usual, that could be a sign of depression. If he's always enjoyed participating in his favorite sport and suddenly stops, that could be another sign of depression.

- Another sign of teenage depression is ignificant weight gain or loss. Weight gainmight be caused by overeating in the hopes that it will make the person feel better. On the other hand, depressed individuals sometimes find no pleasure in eating, even when their favorite foods are offered.

- Insomnia can also be a sign of depression. If a teen is worried or anxious, the stress can interfere with normal sleep.

- Sleeping too much can be a reuslt of depression, too. Sleep is a way for depressed teens and other victims to "escape." Instead of facing their problems, they sleep in order to avoid them.

- Irritability is another sign of depression. You know your teen, so you can best judge whether or not he's unusually irritable for a long period of time. We're all irritable occasionally, but when the irritability becomes a way of life, or when it escalades to violent outbusts, these can be signs of depression.

- Teenage depression can have a big impact on everyday activities. A depressed teen might experience feeling of exhaustion and having no energy. Just getting out of bed in the morning and getting ready for school might seem like an overwhelming task.

- Depression can also manifest into physical aches and pains. These are often vague and difficult to pinpoint, but they can definitely be signs of depression in teens.

- Forgetfulness is another sign of depression. Your depressed teenager might forget important dates, activities, and regular chores.

- Teenage depression can affect school, too. Depressed teens often have trouble concentrating, often resulting in lower grades. If your teen's grades have suddenly dropped, you need to find out why. If it's caused by depression, all or most classes will be affected. If, however, he's having trouble in only one class or subject, chances are that depression is not the cause.

- Depressed teens sometimes have an overwhelming feeling of hopelessness. They can't see that there is any way to improve their current situation.

Teenage depression can result in an unusual fascination with death. Teens who are considering suicide might show an interest in or obsession with death. They might read or write poetry about dying. They might listen to songs about mortality. They might develop an intense interest in a famous person who committed suicide.

At-risk teens might begin to give away their most prized possessions to friends and family members. They might also visit friends and relatives they haven’t seen in a while, as a way of saying goodbye. They could make an effort to “mend fences” with people with whom they’ve quarreled.

They may indulge in reckless behaviors like speeding, riding a motorcycle without a helmet, or engaging in other dangerous acts. In other words, they might have little regard for their own safety and well being.

Such teens might attempt to “shut out” the rest of the world and spend a lot of time alone, possibly in their room.

Suicidal teens might make statements like, “I don’t know how much more I can take” or “What’s the point in living?” Such statements should never be taking lightly.

If the teen is employed, he might lose all interest in his job. He might not show up to work, or he might show up late on a regular basis.

Teens who are thinking about taking their own life might spend time on the computer chatting with other troubled teens or with suicidal adults.

Some teens considering suicide feel that no one loves them or cares about their well being. They might voice these sentiments or simply act accordingly. Even when they are offered praise or encouragement, it might be shrugged off nonchalantly.

Oftentimes, seriously troubled teens will undergo a significant personality change. Previously outgoing, bubbly ones might become quiet, brooding, or withdrawn. Teens who were formerly shy and easy going might become aggressive and short tempered. They might pick fights with siblings, parents, or friends.

Some teenagers who are considering committing suicide might become involved with drugs or alcohol in an attempt to dull the emotional pain they are feeling.

A teenager who is thinking about killing himself might make remarks about death and suicide or joke about killing himself. These should be taken seriously.

Troubled teens may seem perpetually bored and might even voice such an opinion. Even so, when invited to participate in a favorite activity, they will often refuse.

Troubled teens who are considering suicide might become extremely critical of themselves, taking the blame for things that go wrong even when they’re not at fault. They might also make belittling remarks about themselves.

Someone considering suicide might lose all interest in his appearance, as if he’s “given up.” Even a youth who was formerly very fastidious about his looks might go days without washing or combing his hair, dress sloppily, or neglect to bathe regularly.

A teenager who has decided on suicide might seem to be suddenly happy or content after a long period of depression. This is because their struggle for a solution to their problems is over, and they feel that they have discovered a solution – a way to end all their pain.

Unfortunately, about 20% of the teenagers who commit suicide exhibit no warning signs. For the remaining 80%, however, at least two or three warning signs are clearly evident with teenage depression. Learn to recognize the signs of depression, and be vigilant. If a teen you care about is exhibiting any of the above symptoms, please get help before it’s too late. Remember - there are many avenues of help for troubled teens, before teenage depression goes too far.

Teenage depression should never be ignored.
Teenage depression should never be ignored.


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    • nancynurse profile image

      Nancy McClintock 5 years ago from Southeast USA

      I have a dear friend who's son is very depressed and has several suicide attempts. It is heartbreaking. Thanks for sharing. I am interesting in how you got started in writing in other areas also. Thanks so much.

    • Teresa Coppens profile image

      Teresa Coppens 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Excellent hub Habee. Anyone with kids or who works closely with them should read this. Very informative.

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      I wonder about that, too, Eth.

    • ethel smith profile image

      Eileen Kersey 7 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      It is so sad that a teenager can feel so desperate at such a young age. I wonder if it is a sign of the times

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      2besure, I'm so glad you got a second chance!

    • 2besure profile image

      Pamela Lipscomb 7 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

      This is such an important topic. So many teens suffer from depression and other emotional traumas. Family need to know what to look for. As a young woman I attempted suicide. Thank God my family found me before it was too late. I did not know where to turn then. As an adult, I realize that there is help available and that suicide is not the answer.

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 8 years ago from Georgia

      Thank you, abc. I hope it helps some readers!

    • abczyxone profile image

      abczyxone 8 years ago from Township

      You have done a brilliant job of giving this important info together

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 8 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks, Deb. Always good to see you!

    • DeBorrah K. Ogans profile image

      DeBorrah K Ogans 8 years ago

      Habee, Very good hub! Great helpful information! I am sure this will help alert many as to what to lookout for; the warning signs! Wonderful job on the seriousness of "Teenage Suicide!" Thank you for sharing, In His love & Blessings!

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 8 years ago from Georgia

      Oh, Jessay, your kind comment is much appreciated!

    • Jessay profile image

      Jessica 8 years ago from USA

      Depression is so stigmatized in the world. Hubs like this increase awareness and hopefully compassion.

      Your ease with language is obvious in every sentence.

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 8 years ago from Georgia

      Hypno, that is sooo true. I just don't understand it. thanks for reading!

    • profile image

      paul 8 years ago

      we have gold dust to sale i need a person who will buy from me.pls contact me as soon as possible

    • hypnodude profile image

      Andrew 8 years ago from Italy

      Great hub. It's a great problem that all those teens commit suicide, in a way or another. In Italy around 40% of students use drugs, which is another form of suicide. I don't know why they don't care about life, but hubs like this are very important. It can help us to understand them better and maybe communicate more with them.

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 8 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks, Veronica. It really is scary and a senseless loss. thanks for your comment.

    • Veronica Allen profile image

      Veronica Allen 8 years ago from Georgia

      This is such valuable and timely information. I was aware that the teen suicide rate was up, I just didn't know the exact figures. It truly has become an epidemic - and that's down right scary. Thanks for providing parents, grandparents, teachers, gaurdians, and all others who know or have a teen in their life with such vital information.

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 8 years ago from Georgia

      Wow, thanks, Kimbo. I love your stuff, too. I do hope some parents and teachers read this article.

    • profile image

      lyricsingray 8 years ago

      These words I only hope are read by many more people. It's message is critical as you so brilliantly Hubbed. Thanks for this habee. You always have great work. Kimberly

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 8 years ago from Georgia

      Thank you, Ethel.I hope it helps someone.

      HH, thanks. I totally agree.

      Rob, you're right, but my dad showed no signs before shooting himself. I wonder if teens are less able to cover up the warning signs? Thanks for reading!

      Hi, Lorlie. I was hoping you'd stop by!

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 8 years ago from Georgia

      Thank you, Ethel.I hope it helps someone.

      HH, thanks. I totally agree.

      Rob, you're right, but my dad showed no signs before shooting himself. I wonder if teens are less able to cover up the warning signs? Thanks for reading!

      Hi, Lorlie. I was hoping you'd stop by!

    • lorlie6 profile image

      Laurel Rogers 8 years ago from Bishop, Ca

      Once again, habee, an important hub on a very serious issue.


    • Robwrite profile image

      Rob 8 years ago from Oviedo, FL

      This is very helpful. People really do need to learn the signs of an impending suicide, not only in teens but in adults as well.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 8 years ago from London, UK

      This is a great and important information and if it is preventing only one unnecessary death, it is worth a million. The teenager is out of its misery but the parent have to live with it all their lives. Thank you, habee, to bring up this subject.

    • ethel smith profile image

      Eileen Kersey 8 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      You have done an excellent job of putting this valuable info together

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 8 years ago from Georgia

      You're welcome, Dohn. I always had to be on the alert when I was teaching teens. Thanks for reading and commenting!

    • dohn121 profile image

      dohn121 8 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      You really did an excellent job of sharing with us the danger signs of teens who may be at risk of suicide. Thanks for writing and sharing this, habee.

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 8 years ago from Georgia

      So true, Carol. Thanks for stopping by.

    • Carol the Writer profile image

      Carolyn Blacknall 8 years ago from Houston, Texas

      An important read for anyone with teens. Thanks. - Carol


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