There has been an alarming increase in depression and suicide among teens, partly because today’s challenges make it harder to be a kid than when I was a child. While similar struggles, such as getting good grades and making friends, remain, bullying through social media is a dangerous challenge. Rumors spread in an instant and their victims can be traumatized for a lifetime. The increase in teen suicide makes it imperative to promote mental health services for our children.
The Journal of Abnormal Psychology published a study that identifies indicators of mood disorder and teen suicide outcomes. It suggests we do further study into some of the factors in our modern lifestyle that may play a part in the increase in suicide. As a mom of three, I am concerned about my children’s mental health. I question if I would see any warning signs that my child may be struggling with suicidal thoughts.
Here are the steps I take to insure I am aware of the level of my children’s stress and pain:
Get to Know Your Child
As children get older and begin to develop their own sense of self, they tend to talk more with their friends than with their parents. Therefore, you may have to work to keep the lines of communication open. Through open ended questions (that require more than just a yes or no answer), you can find out more about what is happening with your child. Ask about what their days are like, who their friends are, and what topics were trending.
When your conversations sound natural and don’t sound authoritative, children are more likely to respond. So listen more than you speak. In addition, make the conversation casual.
Know the Signs of Suicide
- Has there been a sudden drop in grades?
- Is your child isolating from family and friends?
- Has your child’s behavior changed? What are they posting on social media?
- Are they using drugs or alcohol?
- Has their behavior become reckless?
- Are they depressed? Anxious? Have Mood Swings?