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Teen Suicide. . . Warning Signs (Part 1). . .

Last week we hunkered down in the CPYU studio to record a rather difficult yet necessary upcoming episode of our Youth Culture Matters podcast. We interviewed our good friend Marv Penner, tapping into his years of expertise in youth crisis intervention to get some help with how to address the issues of teen suicide. . . which is on the rise and at its highest point in 40 years.

The podcast will be posted in the coming weeks. Since we talked with Marv about the warning signs of teen suicide, I thought I would put up a series of very practical blogposts on what these signs are. Today, the first installment of five. . .

Teenagers who attempt suicide give signs. It is estimated that about 80 percent of those who take their life communicate their intention to someone prior to the act. While they may not always communicate their pain and intentions with verbal clarity, the signs are there. But they may never be heard unless we know what to watch for.

There are five categories of signs and cries that teens may give before attempting or committing suicide. Carefully read through the descriptions of the first category of these signs, realizing that they will usually appear in some combination in a teenager’s life.

Emotional cries
Teenagers, by nature, can be moody. But not all of their moody behavior should be written off as just a part of the adolescent stage. There are several unusual and extreme emotional cries for help that can clue us in to our teenagers’ struggles with hopelessness, depression, and suicidal feelings.

The first emotional cry can be heard in the classical signs of depression. If these symptoms continue for two or more weeks, then it is time to seek help.

Withdrawal from normal activities is a second emotional cry. When teenagers suddenly separate themselves from friends, family, objects, and activities that are normally a large part of their life, trouble may be brewing. Depressed and suicidal teens may want to spend more time than usual alone or in their room.

The calm before the storm occurs when a teen’s spirits improve suddenly and dramatically after a period of deep and extended depression. Psychologists say that this is a very dangerous time since the teen’s “peace” may actually exist because the decision has been made to take their life. They are excited because they feel like they have finally found the solution to their problems and the pain will soon be over. Parents should be very cautious when a teen who has a history of depression appears to be dramatically and suddenly improved.

More coming. . .

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