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Diane Miller - Teenagers, suicide and their
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    The facts about teenage suicide are frightening. Suicide is the third leading cause of death among 15- to 24-year-olds. These statistics may actually even underestimate the extent of the problem due to the social stigma attached to suicide and the possibility that some suicides may be reported as accidents. For every completed suicide, it is estimated that there are 50 to 150 attempts. While teenage girls are about three times more likely than boys to attempt suicide, teenage boys are about there times more likely to complete a suicide since they tend to use more lethal means. Handguns are the number one killer of boys, and overdose is the number one killer of girls.
    A high incidence of drug and alcohol abuse by the parents of suicidal teens is common. As well, suicidal teens tend to engage in higher rates of alcohol and drug use. Many suicides involve chemical substances. Use of these chemicals intensifies the already-existing feelings of helplessness and hopelessness that the teen is experiencing.
    Families who are aware and take an interest in their teen’s ideas and activities, and who provide regular emotional support, are less likely to experience this problem. In addition, parents who have a close relationship with their teens are in a better position to notice warning signs and offer help. Teens whose parents are aware of their peer group and support their friendships are at a lower risk for teen suicide. Teens who receive emotional support from one or two close friends and feel accepted by them are less likely to feel suicidal.
    Warning Signs of Suicide
    - A significant change in eating and sleeping habits
    - Withdrawal from friends and family and regular activities
    - Violent or rebellious behavior or persistent running away
    - Drug or alcohol use
    - Radical personality change
    - Frequent complaints about physical symptoms, often related to emotions, such as stomach ache, headache and fatigue
    - Loss of interest in pleasurable activities
    - Neglect of personal appearance, especially if great care was taken previously
    - Self-mutilation
    - Many recent losses such as death of a friend or a family member (especially if cause of death was a suicide), or a recent relationship break-up or family divorce.
    Actions may also reflect suicidal thinking, such as a sudden interest in giving away important or favorite possessions, making amends and saying goodbye. Adolescents may make suicidal threats such as in a letter or note to a friend or verbal suicidal threats in the presence of others. Some suicidal teens, however, exhibit none of these signs.
    What can parents do if they suspect suicidal thinking?
    - Ask them about it — if your child exhibits more than one of the warning signs, it is important for you to approach your teen with your concerns.
    - Be a supportive, non-judgmental and good listener.
    - Consult with your doctor or school mental health professional.
    - Call a crisis hot line.
    For more information on adolescent behavior contact Diane at (912) 871-0504, or
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