One of the hardest conversations I’ve ever had is with a physician friend of mine whose son had just taken his life. I know how hard it can be to live through a tragedy like that. After my wife’s brother died by suicide, the family suffered tremendous guilt because they hadn’t recognized the signs that he was in trouble.
Suicide is a growing problem among young people. Approximately 30 million people between the ages of 18 and 24 are at an elevated risk of self-harm. If you’re a parent, a coach, a teacher, or a youth leader, watch for signs of chronic depression, substance abuse, or social isolation. Also watch for anger or anxiety, sleeping too much or not enough, and wild mood swings.
If you see any of these signs, talk with your teenager and find out what they’re feeling. They may not immediately open up or know how to put their emotions into words, so keep reaching out. Encourage them to express themselves as best they can. And most of all, listen.
If there is a problem, seek professional help. And if you’re not sure what’s wrong, don’t hesitate to reach out for help anyway. When it comes to issues surrounding suicide, better to be safe than sorry. Talk to a physician. Or speak with one of our counselors here at Focus on the Family at 1-800-A-FAMILY (232-6459).
Do everything you can to equip your teenager with the resources he or she needs to thrive when life gets tough.