Suicide is all too common among American teenagers. In fact, it currently ranks as the second leading cause of death in this age group. Fortunately, timely and effective treatment can help decrease adolescents’ suicide risks. Research shows that one of the most useful treatment options is DBT or dialectical behavior therapy for teens. Among other things, DBT helps reduce suicidal thinking. This is crucial since suicidal thoughts are a common warning sign of future suicide attempts.
Detecting Suicidal Thoughts in Teenagers
How can you tell if your child is thinking about suicide? Some teens may openly talk about killing themselves. However, like adults, teenagers often don’t make these kinds of direct statements. Still, people affected by suicidal thoughts may do things that reveal their inner state. Specific things you may notice include:
- A fixation on the subject of death or dying
- Sudden and/or extreme changes in behavior
- Involvement in clearly risky or death-defying behavior
- Lack of interest in favored activities, or in school or work
- New or increasing use of drugs or alcohol
- Significant changes in food intake or sleep routines
A teenager contemplating suicide may also start giving away their possessions.
None of these things are surefire indicators of suicidal thinking. However, experts universally view them as potential warning signs. For this reason, they must be taken seriously. That’s especially true when multiple signs occur together.
What to Do if a Loved One Is Suicidal
What should you do if you believe your teenager is suicidal? If the threat is obvious and immediate, seek help at once. This help may come from a suicide prevention hotline or from emergency services in your area.
Talking to your child is also key. Experts recommend being as honest and straightforward as possible. They also recommend:
- Reassuring your child that you love them
- Letting them talk through their thoughts and feelings
- Emphasizing the fact that the problems they’re facing can be worked out
- Making sure they know that you’re there to help and support them
It’s also crucial that your child see a mental health professional. Psychiatrists, psychologists, and counselors can help identify the underlying roots of suicidal thinking. They can also recommend or offer suitable treatment.
DBT for Teens Thinking About Suicide
Dialectical behavioral therapy was first developed to treat borderline personality disorder. People with this disorder are known to have seriously increased chances of dying by suicide. The therapy is also used to treat a number of other mental health issues.
DBT can help your teen in several ways. First, it fosters greater awareness of thoughts and emotions that could lead to suicide. The therapy also focuses on improving the ability to withstand unpleasant thoughts and emotions without reacting negatively. In addition, it helps your teen develop better emotional control.
Studies show that DBT lowers the odds that teens thinking about suicide will make actual suicide attempts. The therapy also lowers the risks for non-suicidal self-harm. These results hold true even for teens with elevated suicide risks. DBT is the first therapy known to reduce adolescent suicide risks with such consistency.
Find Out More About Treating Suicidal Thoughts in Teens at Imagine
Want more information on what to do if a loved one is suicidal? The mental health specialists at Imagine are here to help. We’ll answer any questions you may have about suicidal thoughts in teens.
Imagine is also your source for dialectical behavior therapy for teens. We feature a dedicated DBT program. This program can help lower the risk for suicide. It does so by addressing the mental health challenges that can contribute to suicidal thinking. To discuss our available services, call us today at 509.870.3810 or fill out our online message form.