What Are The Warning Signs?
According to experts there are warning signs parents can watch out for in their teenagers:
* Feelings of sadness or hopelessness, often accompanied by anxiety
* Declining school performance
* Loss of pleasure/interest in social and sports activities
* Sleeping too little or too much
* Changes in weight or appetite
* Neglect of personal appearance or hygiene
* Frequent complaints of stomachaches, headaches or fatigue
* Family loss or instability
* Withdrawal from friends and family
* Difficulties in dealing with sexual orientation
* Impulsive, aggressive behavior, frequent expressions of rage
* Expression of suicidal thoughts or talk of death
* Giving away favorite possessions
Additional factors that can increase the risk of suicide:
* Drug or alcohol use or abuse
* History of suicide in the family
* Availabililty of guns
What Can Parents Do?
How can parents separate these warning signs from a teenager's growing pains? Experts say the best thing is to ask your teen and open up lines of communication.
Ninety percent of suicidal teens said in a study that no one in their families understood them or was listening to their cries for help.
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention there are three steps parents can take:
* Support your child -- listen, avoid undue criticism, remain connected
* Get your child help -- medical or mental health professional
* Become informed -- library, local support group, internet
Experts say teens aren't helped by lectures or hearing all the reasons they have to live. They need to be reassured that they have someone whom they can turn to discuss their feelings or problems.
Let them know, that help is there for them.
1-800-SUICIDE, is a national hotline that provides access to trained counselors, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.