Young People in Crisis

A young person in crisis needs help immediately. Without immediate treatment, the effects can be long-term.

Adolescence is a vulnerable time when a variety of mental health problems can develop, including anxiety and depression. Adolescents may also struggle with adversities like natural or large scale disasters, economic stresses, and international strife.


Young people can experience many kinds of emotional crises that put them at risk for suicide. These include the death of a loved one, a large-scale natural disaster, a family breakup, serious illness or other life-changing event, an accident or physical abuse, mental health issues (like depression or anxiety) and substance use.

A major factor is the ease of access to lethal means like guns, a car or other vehicle or certain types of drugs. Kids who are involved in violent or dangerous relationships may also be at higher risk for suicide.

It’s important to know that kids who are suicidal don’t usually get angry when someone tries to help them. They need our support, understanding and sensitivity. They must be given immediate practical assistance that includes safety planning and check-ins with significant adults.


Many young people who self-harm struggle with powerful emotions that are too much to bear. They may feel overwhelmed by feelings of rejection, isolation or deep grief, or they might feel overstimulated or misunderstood in their relationships. Self-harming can be very dangerous and cause serious medical problems, including bleeding, infection or shock.

It’s important that anyone who is struggling with this keeps talking to someone they trust, whether it’s a parent, friend, counsellor or health professional. Counselling can help them discover what is driving their behaviour and find new ways to cope with distressing thoughts and feelings.

A combination of treatment approaches is usually best. This might include dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), in which a psychologist teaches your child how to tolerate distressing feelings like anger, shame and anxiety without hurting themselves.


Abuse can be mental, physical or sexual and can include threats, blackmail, sex exploitation, harassment, isolation and coercion. It can also take the form of non-physical actions such as restrictions on movement, denigration or ridicule and bullying.

Abusing substances can also place youth in danger of contracting HIV/AIDS or other sexually transmitted diseases. This can happen through direct contact with infected body fluids or sharing unsterile drug-injection equipment, or from the indirect use of contaminated blood and mucus as a result of poor judgment and impaired control while under the influence.

Poverty can be a significant issue for many youth, and the stress of not having enough money can have psychological effects on their mental health. It can also cause them to not have access to basic amenities such as food, shelter or heating.

Sexual Assault

Sexual assault is any type of non-consensual physical contact or behavior that takes away someone’s ability to decide what they want to do with their body. It can happen to anyone, including classmates, friends, family members and strangers. Perpetrators can be male or female and any age, and can use physical force as well as manipulation and emotional coercion tactics.

Sexual violence can cause long-term consequences like PTSD, eating disorders, anxiety and depression. Survivors might also be at risk of relationship disruptions and withdrawal from loved ones.

PTSD can also lead to sexual dysfunction, such as difficulty in having or maintaining an erection or problems with pregnancy and childbirth. This is because the brain experiences chemical changes as a result of trauma. This can be difficult to talk about, but talking to a counselor is one way to get help and support.

Family Conflict

Family conflict can cause a lot of emotional pain. It can affect people of all ages, including children and adolescents. There are many factors that can lead to family conflict, such as lack of communication, resentment, abuse and neglect, and differences in political or religious views.

For example, if a child’s parents have an all-or-nothing relationship, where one parent is dominant and the other is more passive, it can create a toxic environment that leads to poorer mental health outcomes. This can also lead to the development of a vicious cycle where family members can become more dependent on each other for support.

The good news is, there are ways to resolve family conflict and get the help that is needed. The first step is to talk about the issue with family members and consider professional help, such as a counselor or therapist.