In addition, today’s society offers a series of environmental stresses- divorce, single-parent homes blended even families, poverty, overtaxed school systems, negative peer pressure, as well as increased exposure to violence and illicit drugs- that even the most resourceful youngster can have difficulty managing.
Suicidal attempts are not uncommon with children and adolescents who have drug problems or conduct disorders or whose behavior seems aggressive rather than despondent. Although it may be tempting to dismiss such attempts as manipulative, they must be taken seriously, not only in terms of their immediate danger but also as possible expressions of extreme frustration, pain, anger and impulsiveness. Youngsters with conduct disorders are notoriously inarticulate and may illustrate their pain with self-destructive acts.
At the same time, teen-age behavior may seem perplexing to parents. They may wonder if what they observe is indeed a cause for concern. From time to time, they will likely notice a number of problematic behaviors in their teen-ager that could be warning signs for suicide. These include:
-Withdrawal or isolation, especially if your child has always been gregarious and outgoing;
-Signs of self-mutilation;
-Violent behavior such as punching holes in walls, getting into fights or self-destructive violence;
-A consistent pattern of running away from home;
-A significant change in sleeping patterns: suddenly sleeps all the time or does not sleep at all.
-Neglect of personal appearance (most adolescents always want to look their best, even if their idea of looking good is completely at odds with yours;
-Lingering lethargy, a drop-off in schoolwork, loss of interest in school;
-Loss of interest in recreational activities;
-Lack of interest in praise or rewards;
-Weepiness; abrupt or constant crying;
-Expressions of low self-esteem; feeling of worthlessness; “ I’m simply no good “;
-References to the fact that he will not be around much longer to be a burden to everyone;
-Indications that he is completely overwhelmed: “ What difference does anything make “ or “ Life makes no sense ‘;
-Actions that reflect sudden interest in giving important or favorite possessions away, putting his affairs in order, making amends and saying good-bye;
-Sudden and unaccountable cheerfulness, sense of relief or resoluteness after an extended period of depression;
-An abrupt change of personality, dress, style, friends, etc.