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Recognizing Suicide Warning Signs in Teens


The information provided in this post is to be used for educational purposes only. It should NOT be used as a substitute for seeking professional care for the diagnosis and treatment of any mental/psychiatric disorders. Our information is designed to be used for peer support and should be used in conjunction with professional care.

If you are considering harming yourself or someone else, or if you suspect someone you know is in immediate danger of the same, call 9-1-1 immediately.

September is National Suicide Prevention Month, a time dedicated to raising awareness about suicide and how we can all work together to prevent it. One of the most critical aspects of suicide prevention is recognizing the warning signs, especially in teenagers who may be more vulnerable to these feelings.

Today we’re sharing some important suicide warning signs teens may exhibit that we should all be aware of:

  1. Drastic Changes in Behavior: Keep an eye out for significant changes in your teenager’s behavior, such as withdrawing from friends and family, isolating themselves, or losing interest in activities they once enjoyed.
  2. Expressing Hopelessness: Teens struggling with suicidal thoughts may frequently express feelings of hopelessness or despair. They might believe that their situation will never improve.
  3. Talking About Death or Suicide: Pay attention if a teen starts talking about death, dying, or suicide, even in a casual or vague manner. Statements like “I wish I weren’t here” or “I want to disappear” should be taken seriously.
  4. Giving Away Possessions: Some teens who are contemplating suicide might start giving away their belongings or making final arrangements as a way of saying goodbye.
  5. Changes in Sleep and Eating Patterns: Look for significant changes in a teen’s sleep and eating habits, such as insomnia, excessive sleep, appetite loss, or overeating.
  6. Unexplained Physical Ailments: Physical symptoms like headaches, stomachaches, or other unexplained pains can sometimes be linked to emotional distress.
  7. Poor Academic Performance: A sudden drop in school performance or disinterest in school-related activities may be a sign that something is wrong.
  8. Increased Substance Abuse: Teens dealing with emotional pain may turn to drugs or alcohol as a way to cope.
  9. Loss of Interest in Personal Hygiene: Neglecting personal grooming and hygiene can be an indication that a teen is struggling emotionally.
  10. Social Withdrawal: If a once-social teen starts isolating themselves from friends and family, it’s important to find out why.
  11. Self-Harming Behaviors: Keep an eye out for signs of self-harm, such as cuts, burns, or bruises, which can be indicative of emotional pain.
  12. Saying Goodbye: If a teen starts saying goodbye to loved ones in a way that feels unusual or final, it should raise alarm bells.

If you notice any of these warning signs in a teenager, it’s crucial to take them seriously and seek help immediately. Talk to your teen openly, be empathetic, and encourage them to speak with a mental health professional or a trusted adult. Remember that your support and intervention can make a life-saving difference.

This National Suicide Prevention Month, let’s commit to being vigilant and compassionate so that we can help teens in crisis find the support they need to overcome their challenges.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline | 24/7 free and confidential support


Crisis Text Line | Text with a trained Crisis Counselor from anywhere in the U.S.

text TALK to 741741

If you’re worried that someone else is thinking about suicide, here are some steps you can take:

  • Have an honest, private conversation.
  • Listen to their story.
  • Tell them that their life matters to you.
  • Directly ask if they’re considering suicide, without judgment.
  • Avoid debating the value of life, morality, etc.

If the person says they’re thinking about suicide, take them seriously and act.

  • Assume you may be the only person who knows.
  • Ask for help from others—you don’t have to shoulder this alone!
  • Work with the person at risk and others to remove accessible lethal means, such as firearms and drugs.
  • Accompany the person to a local mental health facility or an emergency room, or stay with the person and call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline together at 800-273-8255.

For more information about suicide, visit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

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