Be aware of suicidal behavior

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By The Staff

According to a report released by the Surgeon General two years ago a young person commits suicide every two hours in our country. In fact, suicide now claims the lives of more adolescents than any disease or natural cause.  It should also be noted that adolescents commit suicide at a higher rate than that of any other age group.  What is even more alarming is there are even more suicidal attempts and gestures than there are actual completed suicides.

Most mental health professionals agree that suicidal behavior is the result of a complex interaction of psychiatric, social and family factors.  However, many professionals feel the alarming increase is most directly related to an increase in adolescent depression and other mental health issues such as anxiety, ADHD and alcohol or other substance related problems.  Most also agree that in order to decrease the number of teenage suicides we as a nation need to learn to identify the risk factors and warning signs of teenage suicide.  Below is a list of both the risk factors and the warning signs to look for.

Risk factors:

• Previous suicide attempt

• Close family member who has committed suicide

• Recent losses such as a death, divorce or recent breakup

• Drug or alcohol abuse

• Social isolation

• Exposure to violence

• Easy access to weapons    

Warning signs:

• Obsession with death or dying

• Talk of suicide

• Signs of depression

• Marked change in behavior

• Giving away favorite possessions

• Change in appetite or sleep habits

• Increase in drug use

• Poor school or athletic performance

• Taking excessive risks

If you suspect a young person you know may be at risk of suicide you should act quickly.  If you think a person is at risk of suicide calmly confront the individual and offer your support and help.

 For further information you may contact the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention at www.afsp.org. You may also call 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).