Youth Suicide Profile

A typical youth suicide profile includes a young person with major psychiatric symptoms like depression or drug induced psychosis. In addition, the youth may be grossly agitated and/or in need of relief.

If you suspect a child or teen of being suicidal, the first priority is their physical safety. Remove all lethal weapons from the home and contact a mental health professional immediately.

Family Conflicts

The presence of family conflict and a feeling that one’s life is meaningless can make youths more likely to take their own lives. This is especially true when the youth is in a situation where they feel that they are not loved or valued, such as being betrayed by their partner or having parents who abuse drugs.

Social relations are known to be significant predictors of undesired mental health outcomes, such as depression and suicide [2]. Several studies have shown that conflicting family relations increase the risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors (STBs) in children.

However, some research indicates that different types of families have differing associations with this outcome. This suggests that cultural differences may exist and that psychotherapy adapted to specific populations might be helpful. This could include narrative therapy, CBT, EFT, SFBT or trauma-informed therapy.

Drug Dependency

A substance dependence can lead to many problems for young people, including loss of work and school opportunities, family conflicts, health issues and legal problems. When combined with depression, it can become a dangerous combination.

Teens who are addicted to drugs are at increased risk of suicide. This includes those who are dependent on alcohol, cannabis, sedative or hypnotic drugs, cocaine and stimulants. The risk of suicide is higher for females than for males.

Researchers have studied the link between adolescent drug abuse and suicidal tendencies, but they have not considered whether coexisting psychiatric disorders influence this relationship. This study used data from a longitudinal cohort study and compared the hospitalizations for a substance use disorder among female youths who made at least one suicide attempt with those who did not make such attempts. The results showed that youth who had tried to kill themselves were twice as likely to be hospitalized for a substance use disorder compared to those who did not try to commit suicide.

Poor Coping Skills

Youths who have poor coping skills may be more likely to develop psychological problems and in serious cases, suicidal behaviors. In such a scenario, it is important for them to seek professional help and find a support group that can help them get through their difficult times.

Approach coping involves personal cognitive and behavioral efforts to master or resolve life stressors. Those who do not have adequate approach coping skills may resort to avoidance coping, which involves avoiding the situation, or repression, where they try to suppress emotions related to the stressful events.

Moreover, adolescents who do not have sufficient coping skills are more likely to exhibit nonproductive coping strategies, such as self-blame and tension reduction. On the other hand, those who use productive coping strategies such as focusing on the positive, working hard to achieve and seeking relaxing diversions, are less at risk of depression. In addition, previous-day higher usage of coping strategies that are perceived as helpful is associated with lower suicidal urge intensity the next day.

Grossly Agitated

A youth who is grossly agitated due to drug use, depression or anxiety may be at high risk of suicide. Often a young person will pace the floor and act like a cat on a hot tin roof in an attempt to relieve this internal distress. This can be a clear warning sign that the young person is in danger of hurting himself or herself.

The nature and depth of a youth’s spiritual life can also be an important contributing factor in their youth suicide. Youth who are devout can better inhibit impulsive temptations to harm themselves and more readily seek avenues of understanding and support.

As the world’s youngest generation is at great risk of suicide, there is a need for bolder prevention strategies. These can be population-based (e.g., mental health promotion campaigns on mood resilience, careful media coverage and restricted access to methods of suicide) or targeted at specific demographic groups (e.g., training gatekeepers in different domains to identify at-risk youngsters and coaching dysfunctional families).