In the fast-moving world of today, many parents and teachers have little time to take notice or act upon what may seem like teenage mood swings or oversensitivity. However, awareness of teenage depression is increasing due to undeniable facts, and sometimes, the tragic consequences.
In the US, around two million adolescents experience at least one major depressive incident every year. While suicide is more rare, teenage anxiety and depression have other significant effect’s on a teen’s life, and may lead to decreased performance or attendance at school and extracurricular activities, tension with parents, siblings and other family members, withdrawal from social circles and general lack of support, severe emotional distress, alcohol and drug use, and lastly, suicide.
For many, suicide may seem like an unlikely result, however, suicide is the third-leading cause of death in adolescents aged 11-18. This past year, 15% of high school students reported serious thoughts of killing themselves during the year, while 11% report having made a suicide plan, 7% have reported attempts and 2% have reported attempts that left them in need of medical care. Parents are generally unaware of their child’s situation. Even after the fact, only 10% of suicide attempts are known to parents.
What Can You Do?
Still, there is a lot a parent or other caregiver can do to help their child avoid such actions. 63% of teens at risk of suicide reveal psychiatric symptoms for more than a year before their suicide. By keeping an open mind and monitoring your child’s mental and emotional state, it is possible to help them avoid the situation completely. There are various programs available which offer free annual mental health screening for adolescents in medical practices, schools and various other frameworks. Working hand in hand with the parents or caregivers, the program provides a safe, noninvasive method of monitoring and supporting teenagers throughout their most vulnerable years.