An alarming truth: thousands of teenagers, both girls and boys,
are at risk for suicide. Though many do not recognize suicide as a
serious threat to a teenager’s well-being, teen suicide is now
considered a major cause of death among American teenagers.
According to the National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH),
about 8 of every 100,000 teenagers committed suicide in 2000.
Experts estimate that for every teen suicide death, there are at
least 10 other teen suicide attempts. They also found out that
almost 1 in 5 teens had thoughts about suicide. About 1 in 6 teens
made plans on committing suicide and more that 1 in 12 teens had
attempted suicide in the last year. As many as 8 out of 10 teens
who commit suicide try to ask for help in some way before
committing suicide, such as by seeing a doctor shortly before the
It is said that depression causes most teenage suicides in the
United States. It is depression that leads people to focus mostly
on failures and disappointments; emphasize the negative side of
their situations; and downplay their own capabilities or sense of
Depression or depressive disorders (unipolar depression) are
mental illnesses characterized by a profound and persistent
feeling of sadness or despair. Depressed persons are not
interested anymore in things that were once pleasurable.
Difficulty in sleeping, loss of appetite, significant weight loss,
and difficulty in making decisions are common signs of depression.
A teen with depression may feel like there’s no other way out of
problems, no other escape from emotional pain, or no other way to
communicate their desperate sadness. For that reason, many teens
who think of or actually attempt to commit suicide feel like it is
the only way to get their message across.
To address cases of suicide attempts and other depressive
disorders, the medical community has resorted to the prescription
of antidepressant medications.. With the help of these
medications, most people can achieve significant recovery from
depression…at least, that is what these drugs are supposed to
However, according to recent research, certain widely used
antidepressant medications may double the risk of suicidal
behavior among teenagers. The research also marked the first time
the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has acknowledged that these
drugs can trigger suicidal behavior among patients older than 18.
The finding comes two years after the FDA ordered a “black box”
warning on antidepressant medications following the discovery of a
heightened risk of suicidal behavior among teenagers taking the
Depression is so powerful especially to these young individuals
who find it difficult to cope with the many ins and outs of being
a teenager. For teens who have additional problems to deal with
such as living in a violent or abusive environment, a breakup, a
big fight with a parent, or an unintended pregnancy — life can
be overwhelmingly difficult.
Further, teenagers who feel suicidal may not even realize they are
depressed. They are unaware that it is depression and that their
situation has made them see or believe that “there’s no way out.”
Counselors and therapists can provide emotional support and can
help teens build their own coping skills for dealing with
problems. While there are many cases where teenagers and adults
actually need a prescription for antidepressant medications, these
situations must be thoroughly examined by a doctor or health
professional. Only qualified medical or health practitioners
should decide whether a a certain patient needs medication or not.
Constant communication, guidance and abundant love from the
immediate family is of major importance in dealing with a
teenager’s suicide thoughts. It can also help to join a support
network for people who are going through the same problems. When
depression lifts because a teenager gets the proper therapy or
treatment, the distorted thinking is cleared. In time, the
teenager can find pleasure, energy, and hope again.