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The Warning Signs

It is especially tragic that the three leading causes of death in teens and young adults -- accident, homicide, and suicide -- all are preventable. Parents, family and friends of teens should be aware of some of the warning signs of depression and suicide.

  • Withdrawal from friends and family members

  • Trouble in romantic relationships

  • Difficulty getting along with others

  • Changes in the quality of schoolwork or lower grades

  • Rebellious behaviors

  • Unusual gift-giving or giving away own possessions

  • Appearing bored or distracted

  • Writing or drawing pictures about death

  • Running away from home

  • Changes in eating habits

  • Dramatic personality changes

  • Changes in appearance (for the worse)

  • Sleep disturbances

  • Drug or alcohol abuse

  • Talk of suicide, even in a joking way

  • Having a history of previous suicide attempts

Preventing Suicide

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Each one of us can play a vital role in ensuring that all young people are provided with safe, accepting and supportive environments at home, at school and in their communities. You can be a mental illness lifeguard by understanding how to help youth in crisis and communicating to them that support is always available if they need it.

  • Complete suicide prevention training (QPR-Question, Persuade, Refer)

  • Display a mental health awareness ribbon in your home, car or work space to let people know you are available for support

  • Practice listening to understand, not to respond.

  • Learn how to help by asking questions like:​

    • "What is something that triggers discomfort for you?"​​​

    • "What types of physical and emotional changes happen to you when you are triggered?"

    • "What is something we can do together to help you feel better?"​

    • "What type of activity helps you feel calm or relaxed?"

Reducing Risks

There are many ways to lower someone’s risk of suicide, such as having:

  • Easy access to effective, culturally competent care

  • Support from medical and mental health care professionals

  • Coping, problem solving and conflict resolution skills

  • Restricted access to highly lethal means of suicide (e.g. firearms)

  • Strong connections to family members

  • Being connected to safe schools

  • Academic, artistic, athletic achievements

  • Nonviolent problem solving and conflict resolution

  • Family acceptance for their sexual orientation and/or gender identity

  • A feeling of safety, support and connectivity at school through peer groups like Gay-Straight Alliances

  • Positive connections with friends who share similar interests

  • Cultural and religious beliefs that discourage suicide

  • Positive role models and self esteem

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