Hopelessness: A dangerous suicide warning sign.
Hopelessness is a feeling that conditions will never improve, that there is no solution to a problem, and, for many, a feeling that dying by suicide would be better than living.
Most people who feel hopeless have depression, and untreated depression is the number one cause for suicide. September being known as National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, I thought maybe I should speak on this touchy but very important topic. Speaking about it helps promote resources and awareness around the issues of suicide prevention, how you can help others and how to talk about suicide without increasing the risk of harm.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide is the third-leading cause of death for 15- to 24-year-olds. Approximately 25 attempts are made for every completed teen suicide. Risk dramatically increases when teens have access to firearms at home, and nearly 60% of all suicides in the United States are committed with a gun. Note: Guns in your home should be unloaded, locked, and kept out of the reach of children and teens.
Unfortunately, many of us either know someone personally or have heard of someone that has committed suicide. No matter how they choose to go about ending their life, it is a very tragic event and those effected by the situation are left to wonder if they could have prevented it.
So let’s do our best to educate ourselves to know the warning signs when there is a problem. Last week I spoke of anxiety and how that can lead to depression, and while some levels of anxiety and depression are normal in teenage years there is a point where there are red flags that should not be ignored.
Depression and hopelessness in teens is sometimes difficult to spot because (let’s be honest) by nature teens are irritable, want to sleep a lot, and seem to be on an emotional roller coaster most of the time. Teen girls, especially, are great at hiding their struggles from their parents as not to alert them to what is really going on. With hormones surging and self-confidence so low, parents often misinterpret their behavior as typical emotional outburst and teenage drama. And yes, for the majority of teens it is just growing pains and normal behavior. But for those few who are struggling, there are the warning signs to be aware of and when to seek professional help.
Note major changes in behavior and attitude, changes in friend groups, drop in grades, not wanting to go to school, significant mood swings, increased hostility, appetite or sleep changes, increased negativity about self and others, life and the future; drug and alcohol use, reckless behavior, loss of interest in things, activities or people she used to enjoy, tearfulness, lethargy, difficulty concentrating, general withdrawal, decreased attention to appearance and hygiene. It is hard to really understand what is going on in the mind of someone who is in such a dark place but they say that people usually kill themselves to escape what they see to be an inescapable situation, not necessarily because they want to die.
If your teen is asking about suicide, talk to them. Let her know she can tell you anything and you won’t freak out (just breathe), and listen! If you have reason to expect she may be suicidal, ask her directly and with compassion. Even if she seems dramatic, take it seriously! Tell her you love her, you hear her, and you are committed to helping her through these feelings. Let her know that you believe she can get through this and that you are there for her- always. Consult your teens doctor to set up the best plan of treatment for her immediately. And if your teen won’t open up and speak to you, reach out to someone your child does trust and your child’s doctor to try to get her to open up.
There are also many teens who are self-cutting. While teens that self-cut may become suicidal at some point in their development, cutting does not indicate suicidality. Most teens who cut say that they do it to feel better and not to kill themselves. Through therapy, teens can learn to cope without harming themselves. If you become aware that your teen is self-cutting, get help immediately for your child. Let her know you love her and want to help her stay safe and she can work through this hard time and get through this.
Effective treatment can eliminate or substantially reduce feelings of hopelessness. Indeed, depression is highly treatable and the vast majority of people who receive treatment get better. If you feel hopeless and think that you may be suffering from depression or a similar disorder, you need to reach out for help – and you need to do so now.
And remember this: There is always hope. But you may not feel that hope until you receive effective treatment for any disorder that you might have.
Hope a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.
– See more at: http://nami.org/suicideawarenessmonth#sthash.Oy1ABAnR.dpuf
Girl Talk Marlton
Women’s Wishwall Member