Since the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen an increase of anxiety & depressive symptoms in people of all ages. In addition to that, our community has also been devastated with an uptick in suicide attempts and ideation.
The prevalence of depression and anxiety symptoms during COVID-19 have doubled, compared with pre-pandemic estimates. And moderator analyses, collected later in the pandemic, revealed that prevalence rates were higher in older adolescents and in girls.
Unfortunately, suicide risk can be overlooked due to misinformation or lack of knowledge around the topic. The more we know, the better chance we can protect our teens.
American Foundation Of Suicide Prevention published the following on their website:
“Top 10 things we’ve learned from research”:
Suicide is related to brain functions that affect decision-making and behavioral control, making it difficult for people to find positive solutions
Limiting a person’s access to methods of killing themselves dramatically decreases suicide rates in communities
Ninety percent of people who die by suicide have an underlying — and potentially treatable — mental health condition
Depression, bipolar disorder, and substance use are strongly linked to suicidal thinking and behavior
Specific treatments used by mental health professionals — such as Cognitive Behavior Therapy-SP and Dialectical Behavior Therapy — have been proven to help people manage their suicidal ideation and behavior
No one takes their life for a single reason. Life stresses combined with known risk factors, such as childhood trauma, substance use — or even chronic physical pain — can contribute to someone taking their life
Asking someone directly if they’re thinking about suicide won’t “put the idea in their head” — most will be relieved someone starts a conversation
Certain medications used to treat depression or stabilize mood have been proven to help people reduce suicidal thoughts and behavior
If someone can get through the intense, and short, moment of active suicidal crisis, chances are they will not die by suicide
Most people who survive a suicide attempt (85 to 95 percent) go on to engage in life
As parents and guardians, we question whether our teen is struggling with a mental health disorder or if their behavior is “normal teen behavior.” We are here to share consistent warning signs to look out for in order to keep our kids safe.
The acronym we use to remember these warning signs is FACTS:
Hopelessness--feeling like things are bad and won't get any better
Fear of losing control, going crazy, harming oneself or others
Helplessness--a belief that there's nothing that can make life better
Worthlessness--feeling useless and of no value
Self-hate, guilt, or shame
Extreme sadness or loneliness
Anxiety or worry
Drug or alcohol abuse
Talking or writing about death or destruction
Personality--behaving like a different person, becoming withdrawn, feeling tired all the time, not caring about anything, or becoming more talkative or outgoing
Behavior--inability to concentrate
Sleeping pattern--sleeping all the time or not being able to sleep
Eating habits--loss of appetite and/or overeating
Losing interest in friends, hobbies, personal appearance
Sudden improvement after a period of being down or withdrawn
Statements like "How long does it take to bleed to death?"
Threats like "I won't be around much longer" or "You'd be better off without me"
Making plans, such as studying about ways to die or obtaining the means to self-inflict injury or death
Getting into trouble at school, at home, or with the law
Changes in life that feel overwhelming
Being exposed to suicide or the death of a peer under any circumstances
How can we help our teens and take action when we feel they are at risk?
Provide access to mental health care, and be proactive about mental health
Help them connect to family and community support
Provide problem-solving and coping skills
Limit access to lethal means
Provide cultural and/or religious beliefs that encourage connecting and help-seeking, discourage suicidal behavior, create a strong sense of purpose and/or self-esteem
Thankfully there are also several resources available, hotlines, and confidential ways to ask for help:
Long Island crisis center: https://longislandcrisiscenter.org or 24/7 crisis hotline 516-679-1111. Crisis Chat Monday-Friday from 7pm-11pm
Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255 24/7 free and confidential support for people in distress
Your life Your voice: 1-800-448-3000 http://www.yourlifeyourvoice.org
Call, text, chat, or email
Safe Place: Text: 4HELP (44357)
Receive a message with the closest Safe Place site and phone number for the local youth agency.
You don't have to go through this alone. Our team of compassionate clinicians specialize in working with adolescence and have the training to guide each individual to adequate care and treatment.
Written by Clinical Director, Reisa Villani, LCSW