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How To Help A Teenager With Suicidal Thoughts?

“Don’t forget who you are and where you came from. Don’t get too emotional over little things. Don’t quit until you win the grand prize” Robert Randle.

Why do Teenagers Think About Suicide?

Teenage is the period of major transitions in one’s life. With teenagers, changes occur in body structure, hormonal activity, and social roles, which may pose some challenges to a few teens and lead to suicidal ideation.

There are multiple factors that lead teenagers to suicidal ideation and suicide attempts. These factors are categorized into four domains: personal, family, academic, and social.

– The personal domain includes temperament, self-esteem, coping skills, physical appearance, physical health, and biological functioning. Teens with difficult temperaments, low self-esteem, and poor coping skills are more prone to develop suicidal thoughts.

– The family domain includes relationships with siblings and parents, family environment, the relationship between parents, and emotional and instrumental support from family members. Adolescents witness an unhealthy relationship with their parents, or if there is a divorce or separation, it may give rise to insecurity. They may develop feelings of ‘not belonging’, ‘hopelessness’, and ‘loneliness’ that may lead to suicidal ideations. Lack of support from family members and parents also can be an essential contributor towards suicidal ideations.

– The academic domain includes academic performance, grades and satisfaction with subjects and fields. The teens who are not satisfied with their field or get poor grades in class also induce a sense of inefficacy, leading to suicidal thoughts.

– The social domain includes romantic relationships and support from friends and peers. If the teens lack a social network and close friends and their peers bully them, it can lead to suicidal ideation.

– Many times, a relationship breakup or crisis can be a major cause for suicidal ideation.

– Sexual abuse can lead to suicidal ideation.

– Deep grief due to the death of a close family member, friend, etc

– In Covid times, living alone, and having little social connectedness has also led to an increase in suicidal ideation amongst adolescents.

– Research findings show that a family history of suicide or serious mental illness independently affects the risk of suicide, and the effects are strongest when combined.

– Suicide has a high linkage to mental disorders like depression, substance abuse, and psychosis.

What Can A Family Or Friend Help A Teenager With Suicidal Thoughts?

How can Teen deal with thoughts of committing suicide

The main cause behind suicidal ideation and suicidal attempts is the lack of healthy coping skills to deal with life problems. To deal with suicidal thoughts following strategies can be used by friends and family members:

– Do not discount the teenager’s feelings of hopelessness.

– Talk about the suicidal ideations, and let them vent their inner caged feelings.

– Ask open-ended questions. For example, ‘Tell me more about your feelings about committing suicide?’

– Many people are scared to talk about suicide. They believe if they talk, the person will commit suicide. However, research says the reverse may be true. Instead of allowing the teenager to stay with the thoughts of suicide in their mind, let them thrash it out openly. This is true in a therapeutic setting. Therapists are encouraged to talk about suicidal ideations with their clients to ensure their safety.

– Allow the teenager to share their feelings, positive and negative, with someone. It helps the individual to exhale out their inner stress. When space is not given to sharing feelings, more stress and anxiety are built up, and it can result in a huge blast in the form of psychological disturbance, leading to suicidal ideation.

– A family member or friend can find out in what ways the teenager is planning to commit suicide, for example, how ready they are. Are they stocking medication, are they planning to jump etc.?

– The most important factor is to understand the underlying reasons for suicidal ideation. There can be many triggers including deep feelings of shame and guilt about their inability to face the situations and feelings of ‘not being in control’. Many a times we have a tendency to say, “Everything will be ok”. We are discounting their feelings. Instead, listen with empathy. Providing active listening is crucial.  Many times a, teenager is not seeking advice but outpouring their thoughts to someone they can trust with their innermost thoughts without being judged.

– Participate in joint activities like playing games, going for a walk, dancing, running, hiking etc. Any physical activity helps to lessen suicidal ideation thoughts.

– Psychotherapy gives a safe platform for an adolescent to air out their innermost thoughts and beliefs. In Singapore, psychotherapy can be availed at private practices like Insightful Counselling or at subsidized centres like Family Service Centers etc.

If the suicide is imminent, call an ambulance to rush them to IMH or call the police. Also, you can call Samaritans of Singapore (SOS) – 18002214444 (24 hours suicide crisis hotline)

Are Suicidal Thoughts and Depression Connected for a Teenager?

Suicidal thoughts and depression are closely related to one another. We can say that depression is the main leading cause of suicidal thoughts.

How Can Teenagers Deal with Loneliness and Suicidal Thoughts?

How Can Teenagers Deal with Loneliness and Suicidal Thoughts?

Teens can deal with their loneliness and suicidal thoughts by joining the different societies on the internet as well as physical societies of their same interests. In addition, they spend time with their friends and parents and participant in extra-curriculum activities so that it helps them to distract them from their suicidal thoughts.

How Can Parents Helps Teenager Overcome Suicidal Thoughts?

Parents can adopt the following strategies if their child is experiencing suicidal ideation and does not disclose information with their parents.

– Create a friendly environment at home where the teen feels safe and supported.

– Spending most of the time with their child and discussing multiple topics with teens helps build confidence in teens to discuss/her problems with their parents.

– If teens disclose something with their parents, the parents should show empathy for teen feelings, e.g., they say that they can understand the pain n what they are going through right now.

– Show interest while teens share something with you and act like you feel so glad that they share this with you.

– Try to adopt a healthy lifestyle in the home, have a proper diet and sleeping routine, and true family, get to gather are there; it helps the teens deal with their problems in a healthy way.

– Please consult with a mental health professional about the condition of your child in order to protect him from serious consequences.

How Can a Teenager Let the Therapist Know They Want to Commit Suicide?

It is important that when teens go to seek help from a mental health professional, they disclose all about their thoughts and answer the therapist’s questions honestly so that it helps the therapist conceptualize the problems of teens.

How Can a Therapist Help a Teenager?

The therapist is the mental health professional who assesses the teens’ problems and implements multiple interventions to manage these problems. Following measures, a therapist can use while dealing with the teen with suicidal thoughts.

– The first step to deal with teens with suicidal thoughts is to build a good rapport with them so that they feel easy and comfortable with the therapist and disclose their problems with the therapist without any hesitation.

– In the second step, the therapist asks about the personal, family, and educational history in order to conceptualize in which area he is facing problems that give rise to suicidal thoughts.

– In the third step, the therapist identifies the thoughts pattern of teens to know the exact theme of his thoughts and the distortions from which he is suffering.

– At the fourth step, the therapist asks a hierarchy of cross-questions to reach the core beliefs of the teens behind his thoughts.

– After that, the therapist challenges the teens’ maladaptive beliefs and develops a more adaptive one in place of them about self, world, and others.

– The therapist also helps the teens develop healthy coping skills to deal with their problems.

– The problems solving is also administered by the therapist in teens.

Conclusion

It is concluded from the above discussion that to deal with the suicidal ideation of teens, the strategies should be used at the level at person’s level, at parents’ level, and the therapist’s level and all this can help the teens to override their suicidal thoughts.

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