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about suicide

Teen Warning Signs of Risk for Suicide

Sometimes teens will exhibit warning signs, indicating that they need help. The presence of one or more of these warning signs does not necessarily mean that a teen is suicidal; the only way to know whether your teen is thinking about suicide is to ask. Suicide attempts among young people tend to be based on long-standing problems, such as depression, alcohol or drug abuse, and a history of aggressive or disruptive behaviors, but may be triggered by a specific event.

Warning signs of suicidal behavior in youth include:

  • depressed mood; 
  • substance abuse; 
  • frequent episodes of running away or being incarcerated; 
  • family loss or instability, significant problems with parent; 
  • expressions of suicidal thoughts, or talk of death or the afterlife during moments of sadness or boredom; 
  • withdrawal from friends and family; 
  • difficulties in dealing with sexual orientation; 
  • no longer interested in or enjoying activities that once were pleasurable; 
  • unplanned pregnancy; and 
  • impulsive, aggressive behavior, frequent expressions of rage.[1]  

This list is not definitive; some teens may show no signs and yet still feel suicidal. Others may exhibit many signs yet appear to be coping with their situation. The only way to know for sure is to ask. 

American Psychiatric Association. (1998). Let's Talk Facts About Teen Suicide