As a teen, it’s normal to feel sad, down in the dumps, or even depressed once in a while. Most of the time you’ll be able to cope with your problems with the help of your parents/guardians, friends, or a counselor. However, sometimes problems come up that make you feel so depressed or hopeless that you think there’s no way out. Some people who feel this way begin to think about hurting themselves or committing suicide.
Why do people think about committing suicide?
There’s no “one reason” why someone would feel like hurting themselves or think about suicide. However, if someone is having these thoughts, it may be because they:
- Feel depressed/hopeless (they are very sad, and don’t think things can get better)
- Are extremely angry (because of conflict with others)
- Feel like a failure (such as doing poorly in school, or not getting into the college of their dreams)
- Have trouble coping with loss (such as the death of a family member or close friend, or the break up of a relationship)
- Feel socially isolated (feeling like an outcast, being bullied, etc.)
Signs that someone may be thinking about suicide include:
- Very depressed mood – This includes changes in sleep, appetite, and concentration, feeling hopeless or guilty, not enjoying anything, and having trouble doing routine things such as going to school, showering, or keeping up with normal activities.
- Spending a lot of time alone – withdrawing from friends and family, and staying in their room much of the time
- Giving away their personal things
- Saying goodbye or writing goodbye notes
- Using drugs or alcohol to try to make themselves feel better.
- Taking risks and being reckless – such as reckless driving
- Talking about dying or suicide and being extremely interested in morbid music and/or movies
What if I’m thinking about suicide?
If you’ve been thinking about hurting yourself or committing suicide, the most important thing to do is get help so you can find a solution to your problems and stay safe. You MUST tell a trusted adult that you need help. Talk with your parents/guardians, your health care provider, religious leader, school counselor, or a mental health professional about your feelings. These people are all there to help you.
There are also confidential hotlines for teens who have suicidal feelings. These hotlines are free and the counselors are trained to give you resources and advice so that you can get further help.
You can call:
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) or use their 24/7 online chat
- Samaritans: 1-877-870-HOPE (1-877-870-4673) or use their online chat
- The Trevor Project: 1-866-488-7386 or use TrevorChat or TrevorText
If I’m thinking about suicide, is there anything that will help me feel better?
There are many things you can do to feel better and to solve the problems that lead to suicidal thoughts. The best thing you can do is get help from a therapist, who is trained to help you figure out what is bothering you and help you cope with your problems. There are many kinds of therapy, and you may either go by yourself or with your family. For some teens, therapists might recommend medication to help you feel less sad or depressed. If a therapist feels that medication will help you, they will direct you to a health care provider or psychiatrist, who will choose the best medication to help you feel better.
There are other things you can do to help yourself feel better, including:
- Getting regular exercise
- Eating well and getting enough sleep
- Spending time with close friends and family and others who care about you
- Having a hobby such as sports, music, writing, art, etc.
- Helping others (for example, volunteering at a local food bank)
Using drugs or alcohol to try to make yourself feel better is NOT a good solution. There’s a higher risk of acting on suicidal thoughts when under the influence of alcohol/drugs.
How can I help a friend who feels suicidal?
It can be very frightening when a friend tells you that they are feeling very depressed or even suicidal. They might ask you not to tell anyone that they’re feeling this way, but the most important thing to remember is that you shouldn’t try to deal with a friend’s suicidal feelings by yourself. Talk to a trusted adult right away. Even if you think your friend might be angry with you for telling, your friend needs professional help.
Dealing with problems may feel overwhelming at times, but hurting yourself is never the answer. If you ever feel like you might harm yourself, tell someone right away or go to the closest emergency room.