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Why Do Teens Talk About Suicide and Have Dark Thoughts?

The teenage years coincide with a flood of hormones and new life experiences that can wreak havoc on your teen’s emotions. Most teenagers go through this period with some ups and downs.

Your teen will probably have some sad days or days when they want to listen to angry music and let go of their emotions for a little while.

If you think back on your own time in high school, you may remember some rough moments. Lifelong friendships can end with the addition of new friendships. Love interests come and go. Popularity at school matters a lot, and bullying is even worse now with the addition of social media.

On top of everything happening at school, home life might not be a walk in the park. If there’s fighting in the home or family members struggle with substance abuse, the home might not feel like a safe place for your teen.

Almost all teenagers will have some sad days and some angry days. As a parent, though, it can be alarming if your teen starts to focus on dark song lyrics or poetry. If they actively talk about suicide or about having dark thoughts, you have cause for concern. Though most teens who talk about suicide don’t follow through with it, it’s not to be taken lightly.

If you are worried about your teen son’s mental health, contact us to learn more about our therapeutic boarding school for troubled boys. Mental health problems should always be taken seriously. Issues like depression and suicide ideation should be addressed as early as possible.

When should I be worried about teen suicide?

Though most teenagers will never actually attempt suicide, teen suicide is still more common than you might think. According to a 2019 report from the CDC,

“Suicide is the second leading cause of death among high school-aged youths 14-18 years after unintentional injuries.”So, suicide should still be a serious concern for parents if you’ve got a teenager.

There are a few risk factors that contribute to suicide in teens. If your teen is talking about suicide or having dark thoughts and has one of these risk factors, take it very seriously.

Risk factors for teen suicide:

  1. Depression or other mood disorders

  2. Substance use or abuse

  3. A recent death or serious injury/illness of a loved one

  4. Recent major life change (Ex: parents’ divorce, a best friend moving away, etc.)

  5. Family history of suicide or mood disorders

How to address your teen’s suicidal thoughts

It’s important to note that while many teens will consider suicide at some point, most won’t attempt it. They might be going through a rough patch and think that there’s no point continuing to live. Most teens will pull through these moments and bounce back without incident.

If you are worried that your teen might be considering suicide, there are a few things to consider when you address it.

1. Talk to them about it

In American culture, it’s a bit taboo to talk about suicide. Many people feel weird about bringing it up, and they’re worried that they might trigger suicidal thoughts just by mentioning it.

Don’t worry about that.

You won’t accidentally make your teen suicidal by talking about it. If your teen does feel suicidal, they most likely want to talk about it and don’t know how to bring it up with you.

2. Find out how much they’ve thought about it

If your teen says that they think about suicide sometimes, find out how much they’ve thought about it.

Do they have a plan in place for how they would do it?

Have they thought through a timeline on when they would do it?

If they have a legitimate plan in mind and think about it on an ongoing basis, take it very seriously and seek help immediately.

3. Get additional help

Teens who have dark thoughts and talk about suicide can benefit from getting professional help.

While it’s extremely helpful for you to be supportive at home, there’s only so much you can do on your own. Start by talking to your teen’s doctor about what’s going on to get their opinion. They should be able to guide you in the right direction for further intervention if necessary.

If your teen son’s depression gets out of hand and you’re worried that he might commit suicide, he might benefit from attending a therapeutic boarding school. At Sundance Canyon Academy, our therapists work with each student to keep them safe and create a treatment plan that’s right for them. Contact us at 866-639-2856 for more information.

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