Learn four ways to recognize and react to warning signs of potential suicide.

Evidence suggests that when a high-profile suicide occurs—think Robin Williams, Kate Spade, or Anthony Bourdain—news of the suicide can trigger suicidal thoughts and actions in others. Exposure to these stories can make teens feel suicide is an effective way to put a stop to their pain.

“The most likely signs of suicide are severe isolation and making clear, suicidal statements such as those about life not being worth living,” says Grant Clowers, LCSW, Clinical Supervisor at Carson Tahoe Behavioral Health Services (BHS). “Suicidal thoughts should always be taken seriously—they’re not just adolescent angst.”

Other warning signs include teens withdrawing from activities they previously loved, intense fatigue, giving away possessions, and telling loved ones goodbye.

What Can Parents Do?
If a teen exhibits warning signs of suicide, parents can:

  • Seek professional help. While bad days happen, depression and anxiety symptoms that last more than a couple weeks could indicate a mental health condition. A local mental health provider can perform an evaluation for your teen and encourage counseling.
  • Encourage teens to be around other people. Isolation can worsen symptoms of depression and suicidal thoughts. Help your teen maintain friendships.
  • Validate how teens are feeling. Share your own feelings of sadness or hopelessness—it helps them to know they are not alone.
  • Defuse statements like “I want to die” or “you’d be better off without me anyway.” Listen without judgment and remind teens they are loved.

Suicidal thoughts and ideation are not just adolescent issues. Adults who are experiencing suicidal thoughts should seek help and urge those exhibiting such feelings to do the same.

Are you or someone you know experiencing suicidal thoughts? Call the Carson Tahoe Behavioral Health Services toll-free hotline at (800) 283-7671.