September is national suicide prevention awareness month. This is a time to shine a light on the topic of suicide, by encouraging conversations, providing education, and fighting against stigma. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among people aged 15-24 in the United States. Every year, about 2,000 teens take their own lives.
About 90-98% of suicides are a result of a diagnosable mental illness – the vast majority being depression. Depression is a serious mental illness that affects millions of people worldwide, including teens. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about 1 in 5 teens will experience depression at some point in their lives.
Teen depression can be caused by a variety of factors, including genetics, brain chemistry, and life experiences. Teen depression can have a serious impact on a teen’s life. It can lead to poor academic performance, social isolation, and risky behaviors such as substance abuse and self-harm. In some cases, teen depression can lead to suicide.
Prevention is Key
Many things can be done to prevent teen depression and suicide. Erika’s Lighthouse supports depression and suicide prevention efforts through free, classroom education programs, staff training, teen empowerment clubs, and resources for families. Parents, caregivers, teachers, and other adults can play a role by talking to teens about mental health, providing support, and encouraging them to seek help if they are struggling. Teens can also help themselves by learning about depression and suicide, talking to trusted adults about their feelings, and seeking professional help if needed.
You Are Not Alone
If you are a teen who is experiencing depression or suicidal thoughts, please know that you are not alone. There is help available. If you need help for yourself or a friend, please reach out to a trusted adult, such as a parent, caregiver, teacher, or mental health specialist. If you need to speak with someone immediately, please text or call 988. If this is an emergency, call 911.
Here are some additional tips for preventing teen depression and suicide:
- Talk to your teen about mental health. Let them know that it’s okay to not be okay and that there is help available if they are struggling. You can access Erika’s Lighthouse intervention language for parents and caregivers here
- Be a good role model. Show your teen how to cope with stress in healthy ways.
- Encourage your teen to get involved in activities they enjoy. This can help them feel connected to others and make them less likely to feel isolated.
- Pay attention to your teen’s behavior. If you notice any changes in their mood, sleep patterns, or eating habits, talk to them about it.
- If you are concerned about your teen’s mental health, seek professional help. A therapist can help your teen develop coping skills and manage their depression.
It is important to remember that you are not alone. People care about you and want to help. If you are struggling, please reach out for help.