Suicidal thoughts in teens are often associated with depression. If a teen is sad or low or despondent, they might begin to think about taking their own life. However, some teens may experience a combination of anxiety and depression, which can also create suicidal thoughts. And for some teens, whose anxiety has begun to interfere with functioning in life, suicide might also be a part of their thinking.
When anxiety gets in the way of being able to function in life, a teen might be experiencing a mental illness. It’s natural for people to experience stress, but when that stress grows so much that it interferes with life, a diagnosis and working with a mental health provider might be necessary.
When anxiety becomes more and more intense, a teen might:
- Feel tension or stress
- Get caught up in thoughts about past events
- Experience excessive worry about future events
- Feel overwhelmed by responsibilities
- Have a general feeling of being revved up or over-stimulated
With these experiences, a teen might have physical symptoms such as a racing heart, dizziness, nausea, shortness of breath, shaking, and sweating palms, all of which might come out of nowhere. Sadly, experiencing these symptoms on an ongoing basis can lead to long term negative outcomes. These can include:
- Social isolation
- Low self-esteem
- Lack of independence
- Suicidal thinking
- Substance abuse
- Risky behavior
- Poor choices
- Decline in school performance
Coping Mechanisms for Teens
When anxiety and psychological pain intensify, teens frequently begin to look for relief. They might not only want a way to free themselves from challenging emotions, but they might also look for a way to better function in school, at home, or at work. For instance, this might be through substance use. In fact, approximately, 60-75% of teens who abuse drugs or alcohol also have a mental illness.
Suicide attempts might also be a way to get out of the psychological pain teens experience. Suicide is the third leading cause of death among teens and young adults ages 15-24. Teens who are most at risk for losing their life to suicide include those who hide their depression or anxiety from parents and caregivers.
If you see that you’re teen is struggling in some way, it’s important to ask your child about it. In fact, if you have any doubts at all about your teen’s psychological health, have them assessed by a mental health professional. A psychologist or therapist can decide on a diagnosis, based on your teen’s symptoms, and then develop an appropriate treatment plan.
The type of anxiety disorder will then determine the type of treatment, frequency of therapy sessions and medication use, as well as the level of care. For instance, if your teen is suicidal they may require residential treatment. For most teens with anxiety disorders, treatment will involve psychotherapy and medication.
Keep in mind that regardless of the mental illness, a teen who is suicidal will likely show signs of their suicidal thinking in their behavior and communication to you. Contact a mental health provider for further assistance.