Advice Column, Health, Tween & Teen

Adolescence And Suicide

  • Parenting Hub
  • Category Advice Column, Health, Tween & Teen

Suicide is a devastating tragedy which is a grim reality in most parts of the world. If you suspect that your adolescent is at risk get assistance from a mental health care worker as soon as possible.

There are a variety of risk factors regarding the adolescent and suicide which can include some of the following:

  • Specific characteristics of the adolescent: (for example, hyperactivity, impulsivity, ‘difficult’ temperament, and other psychiatric difficulties, such as depression)
  • Peer relationships:(for example, if they are rejected by their peers or belong to a group of “bad company” or have poor interpersonal skills)
  • Functioning at school: (for example, not achieving at school and failing)
  • Cultural/Community and Societal influences: (for example, poverty, discrimination, unemployment, societal acceptance of aggression, easy access to guns and alcohol in the community, societal acceptance of violence, and exposure to violence in the community or via the media etc.)
  • Victimisation, shame and humiliation: (for example, bullying which in this technological age takes on an additional form with the advent of the social media and easy distribution of photos etc. South Africa has unique facets that can exacerbate the problem, for example the high rate of “corrective rape” of lesbian young woman and perpetrators getting away with the crime.)
  • Very high expectations/pressure to perform: (These high expectations can be self- imposed or they can emanate from other sources such as from within the family etc.)
  • Poor problem solving skills and difficulty communicating their feelings.
  • What are some of the warning signs?
  • Depressed mood
  • Talks about committing suicide
  • Previous attempt at committing suicide
  • Family dysfunction such as significant problems with a parent/s
  • Withdrawal behaviour (withdraws from family and friends)
  • Difficulties dealing with sexual orientation (a high percentage of this minority group have been found amongst suicide rates in adolescents)
  • Substance Abuse (alcohol and/or drug abuse)
  • Giving away belongings that had special meaning for them
  • Preoccupation with violence and gory themes in TV shows, movies, internet sites etc.
  • Having a family member or relative who committed suicide
  • Family violence or abuse
  • Engaging in anti-social behaviour (cruelty to animals, fire-setting, running away from home; being jailed)
  • Isolated from family and peer group/social isolation
  • Poor self-esteem.
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