Kids these days are struggling with things more now compared to when our parents were little. There's more pressure on children to perform well, get better grades, to look a certain way, and act more grown up than they truly are. Within today's society, the expectations are higher, the depression rate among kids under 18-years-old is higher, and bullying is worse than it was a quarter of a century ago thanks to the Internet. Not only are kids getting bullied in person these days, but cyber bullying has evolved and taken things to new levels. Kids no longer have to leave their house in order to fall victim to bullying, which also means that they cannot retreat to their home to get away from it either.
With all this pressure and stress that today's kids have to endure, it's easy to understand why the suicide rate has even increased. Suicide is the third leading cause of death among children ages 10 to 14-years-old. That's a scary thought. Bullying, while a huge contributor to suicidal thinking, is not the only reason kids and teens feel like they need to resort to suicide. Things like abuse, the death of a loved one, and a child’s home life are all factors as well.
Parents, teachers, and loved ones need to be aware of the signs, so that they may recognize the warnings of a person considering suicide a permanent solution to temporary problems. While these kids may feel alone, they need to know more than ever that they are never truly alone and that there is help out there. So, parents, grandparents, and loved ones, here is a list of warning signs to watch out for that may indicate that the child or teen in one's life may be considering suicide.
14 Favourite Belongings Begin Disappearing
A really big sign of kids that are considering suicide as a way out of life is if the child has started to give away, or get rid of, personal items that they have loved and treasured. A lot of the time, the kids will give their favorite items to the people closest to them. This may be a sibling, a close friend, or even another family member. This kind of behavior should throw up warning flags immediately. The child in question may say that they were just cleaning out some things and decided that they no longer need or want certain items.
Usually, children who are suicidal see giving their belongings away as a way for the people close to them to always keep the child in memory and inside their hearts. Not everyone will do this, but parents and loved ones need to watch out if they start to notice this type of behavior.
13 The Grades Start Slipping
If a child is feeling, or stating, that they feel hopeless, this could be a sign of either a severe depression or suicidal thinking. However, this symptom or sign alone is not indicative of suicidal behavior and needs to have other signs or red flag warning along with it. Even a child in a severe depression needs to some kind of help since severe depression can always lead to a child feeling suicidal.
If a child is feeling hopeless, they usually cannot see past their bleak current state of mind. They also usually do not realize that their current life situations are temporary. They may have no hope for a better tomorrow, regardless of how many times someone tells them that things will get better. For children, when they are feeling hopeless their grades might start to slip because they do not see the point in doing anything since they feel like there is no hope for change. Hopelessness, along with other red flags, could be a warning that a child is feeling suicidal and that they need help.
12 Leaving The Bedroom Is Out Of The Question
When a child starts to isolate and withdrawal from the people that mean the most to them, or even from doing activities that they once enjoyed, loved ones should start to pay attention. This can be an eye-opening sign that a child is thinking of suicide, or that they are in some kind of distress. The child may have started to retreat to the solitude of their bedroom, and stopped interacting with their loved ones as much as they used to.
At this point, the child may start to feel or already be feeling like they are all alone. If a loved one notices these signs in their child, they should try to have a nice, long talk with their child or teen about suicidal thoughts and behaviors to see where the child is mentally. If that seems to get the parents or guardians nowhere, and they are still concerned the child in their life, they should speak with that child doctor to get recommendations regarding what their options are.
11 Cuts And Scrapes On The Arms
Dangerous self-harm behavior and regular self-harm are something that many people may confuse and mix up unless they understand why the child or teen would self-harm, to begin with. Usually, self-harm is not indicative of a suicidal child. More so, the child is using self-harm as a coping mechanism to deal with stress and bad or negative feelings.
Some kids also say that they self-harm to keep themselves from committing suicide; the whole coping mechanism thing. Dangerous self-harm would be noticing cuts specifically over veins that may look deep or really bad. It is very hard to decipher regular self-harm wounds from something that would be considered dangerous or suicidal.
Regardless of anything, noticing that a child is self-harming is a big warning that the child or teen is in some kind of distress and needs help before things get worse. However, as mentioned before, self-harm does not always equal a suicidal child. Consulting with a child or pediatric psychologist or even the child pediatrician is always recommended when this type of unhealthy behavior is noticed.
10 Sudden Calmness
If a child or teen is suddenly showing a major change in behavior and becomes very calm after going through a depressive episode or negative life event, this should be taken as a major warning sign. Sudden calmness could indicate the child has decided to end their life and they know inside themselves that their pain and struggling will soon be over.
When someone who is dealing with depression is all of a sudden calm, one would have to ask why. Why, out of nowhere, are they okay when they have been struggling for a while? This child or teen needs to be monitored to make sure that they are really okay and have not made the life altering decision to end it all. Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
9 Vocabulary Consists Of Only Negative Words
Negative self-talk is not always a sign that a child is considering taking their own life, but it very well can be for many children and teens. A lot of people who think very highly of themselves do not really consider suicide out of nowhere. Low self-esteem and poor self-image can further antagonize suicidal thoughts when the child, or anyone really, think so negatively about themselves. This is definitely something to keep an eye on.
Now, I am not saying that every person or child with low self-esteem is suicidal, but this is one of those warning signs that come along with or accompany, other warning signs. Children and people, in general, think of themselves as being worthless when they have a poor self-image. The only thing a loved one can do is reassure the child that they are worthy and capable of great things, and to let them know that they are loved.
The child may be able to work with child psychologists or other treatment options to help gain some self-worth and some self-esteem. This is not a quick-fix kind of thing, and will only get better when being worked on over time. It’s always best to have the child work on positive self-image while they are young. The older they get, the harder it is to retrain thought processes.
8 Eating Seems Like An Impossible Task
A lot of the time, changes in a child or teens appetite could indicate that something is going on with the child. Maybe they are eating way more than normal. This may be considered emotional overeating. Or, maybe the child is eating less due to stress. Everyone, child or adult, is different. The way the body and mind react to stress and trauma will be different for everyone.
Change in appetite alone is not something to really worry over too much. However, add in other signs, and it may indicate that the child is suicidal. A change in appetite and depression go hand-in-hand quite frequently. A parent or guardian should try to talk to the child and see what they say about the change in their eating habits. If it is bad enough, the child’s pediatrician should be contacted to see what they say. They may be able to offer some advice and examine the child.
At times, if the child is suicidal or in distress they most likely will not be talking to their parents or guardians about, and sometimes it takes someone outside of the child’s inner circle to be able to get some answers about what is truly going on. A change in appetite could also be caused by bullying about the child’s weight if they are either what other children might consider too big or too small.
7 Their World Looks Tired And Dishevelled
Sometimes when children and teens are really depressed, they may change up their appearance. Or, they may stop caring about how they look and dress altogether. Trading out jeans for a constant pair of sweatpants. Some children and teens may also resort to what is considered emo and dress all in black. This alone is not a sign that a child is suicidal. However, this along with other warning signs can indicate that a child may be considering suicide or that they are feeling suicidal.
More often than, suicidal kids will change the way they look without even realizing at times. They may also skip showering for days on end for the more grunge look; the dirty unwashed hair and such. When it comes to a change in appearance, the only thing a parent or loved one can do is ask the child or teen if they noticed that they have changed up the way they look and see what they say about it.
6 Goes From White To Black In An Instant
Noticing a change in the child or teens personality, for the worst, is not a warning sign by itself. However, combined with other signs on this list should be something that parents, guardians, and loved ones should watch of for regarding suicidal thoughts and behaviors in children and teens. These changes could be very subtle or dramatic depending on the child in question. Some children may be acting slightly different than they used to.
These changes could be anything from the child once being very out going to very quite, maybe even appearing shy. Or the child could have even gone from being very warm and friendly to closed off and maybe even a little mean or kind of rude.
5 Fears Going To School
Bullying is a major factor in suicidal behavior and thoughts in children and teens. We all know how cruel kids can sometimes be to one another. Anyone, at any age, can fall victim to the horrible claps of bullying. However, with cyber bullying at an all-time high, kids and teens have no place where they feel safe anymore. Social media bashing, text message threats, and instant messaging can lead to anyone becoming a real-life target.
Schools have begun to watch out more for bullying among the students and have developed a no tolerance policy when it comes to bullying. That does not mean in any way that it no longer happens. A lot of times kids that are the victim of bullying tend to feel alone like no one is on their side and will hide what they are going through from their loved ones.
If a parent or another loved one of the child suspects bullying, it is always best to try to talk to the child first and then see what steps need to be taken from there. Parents are guardians can always go to the school personally and tell them about their suspicions and discuss any other observations about the child’s change in behaviors or attitude.
4 Sleeps Too Much Or Too Little
When a child’s sleep pattern becomes erratic, or they are sleeping much less or much more, it is a sign that something is not right. Sleep disturbances alone is not indicative of a suicidal child or teen. However, add it to something like depression, or major negative life event, and it could be a sign that the child may be suicidal.
When a child is depressed, they may want to sleep the day away, or they may have problems sleeping altogether. Every child is different with how their body handles distressing events in life. If a child is having sleep issues, and it is noticeable, the parent or guardian should contact the child’s pediatrician to see what is going on. Even just a lack of sleep is enough to cause depression in an adult. So, why would it be different in children?
3 Happy, Sad, And Then Happy Again
Not everyone who is depressed, sad or moody is going to be suicidal. That is why this warning sign needs to be added with other warning signs. Depression and negative changes in mood are a key factor in suicidal children and teens. People who are happy with things, and happy with their current life situations generally are not suicidal.
Depressive episodes can come out of nowhere are be triggered by some kind of event. Depression can happen to anyone, at any age, and can affect any nationality. Sometimes the people with the biggest smiles are the ones hurting inside the most, and children and teens are no exceptions.
If a parent, guardian, or loved one notices that their child or teen has slipped into a depressive episode they should first talk to the child and see what the say, depending on what the child says and what the loved one thinks would be best, contacting the child's doctor might be a good next step. Letting the cold know that they are loved and that they are never alone can be beneficial as well.
2 A Recent Trauma?
If the child or teen has recently been through some kind of trauma or negative life event that the child is having a hard time dealing with it, plus noticing other suicidal warning signs, could be a big neon sign that something is going on in the child’s life that they are having a hard time dealing with. Trauma to a child or teen could be anything from abuse, assault, a devastating break-up, being bullied, home life problems, the death of a loved one, and much more.
A lot of adults tend to jump right to the conclusion that children do not experience stress and trauma like adults do, therefore they have nothing to worry about really. This is far from the truth. Even children under 10-years of age could have experienced stress and trauma that may make they feel suicidal at such a young age.
If a child has just undergone some major negative life event and is showing other signs that they may be suicidal a parent, guardian, or loved one should consult with the child’s doctor as soon as possible. It is always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to someone life.
1 Life Has Been Threatened Before
If a child or teen has already threatened suicide, take this as a big red flag because the thought is already implanted in their minds. A lot of people make the mistake of taking a suicidal threat as an attention getting scheme, but this is not always the case. Most children do not like to admit that they are thinking of suicide, so if they are saying threats on their life, please get them help as soon as possible.
A parent or guardian could contact the child’s pediatrician, or even take their child to an emergency room to be evaluated. An emergency department personnel would know what to do, and they have trained psychologists or psychiatrists on staff for things like this. Loved ones should never take a suicide threat as a joke, even if the child frequently says that they want to end their life. Suicidal thinking and behavior is nothing to take lightly, and quick action may just save the child’s life.