Suicide Prevention Information for Adolescents and Children

  • Symptoms of Depression


    • Sad, anxious or "empty" mood
    • Declining school performance
    • Loss of pleasure/interest in social and sports activities
    • Sleeping too much or too little
    • Changes in weight or appetite
    • Negative feelings about oneself
    • Inability to concentrate or pay attention
    • Increased substance use


    Although these symptoms of depression may fit all children and adolescents at one time or another, it is the change in behavior and the duration of those behaviors that are important. If any abrupt changes occur in the child/adolescent and if this change lasts approximately two weeks or longer, it would be wise to consult a mental health professional for evaluation.


    Do not hesitate to contact someone for help any time you are concerned about the safety of a child. 


    Risk Factors


    • Previous suicide attempt(s)
    • Close family member or friend who has died by suicide
    • Social isolation: The individual does have social alternatives or skills to find alternatives to suicide
    • Recent losses: This may include the death of relative, a family divorce, or a breakup with a girlfriend/boyfriend
    • Drug or alcohol abuse: Drug decrease impulse control making impulse suicide more likely. Additionally, some individuals try to self-medicate their depression with drugs or alcohol
    • Exposure to violence in the home or the social environment: the individual sees violent behavior as a viable solution to life problems
    • Past psychiatric hospitalization
    • Handguns in the home, especially if loaded


    Warning Signs of Suicide


    To prevent suicide attempts, we must recognize common crises and "warning signs" that may precipitate a suicide attempt. It is then that we can reach out to engage those who may be at risk. Warning signs include:


    • Talking about suicide
    • Preoccupation with death
    • Signs of depression
    • Behavioral changes
    • Giving away special possessions and making arrangements to take care of unfinished business
    • Difficulty with appetite and sleep
    • Taking excessive risks
    • Increased drug use
    • Loss of interest in usual activities
    • Irritability