Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

Teen Suicide: What Every Parent Needs to Know


Risk Factors
The recent suicide of a friend, family member or acquaintance puts teens at further risk for suicide.
The recent suicide of a friend, family member or acquaintance puts teens at further risk for suicide.
©iStockphoto.com/Canoneer

It's a rare person that doesn't struggle with confusion, stress and self-doubt during the transition from child to adult. In this uniquely (and often dramatically) angst-filled period, a "small" failure, embarrassment or disappointment can seem so huge as to be completely overwhelming. To the teenage brain, suicide can seem like the only way out of a difficult situation.

But most teens do not commit suicide, so there must be something more. Factors that, in conjunction with teen angst and poor judgment, can increase the chances of suicidal thoughts and behaviors include:

  • Personal or family history of suicide, bipolar disorder and/or depression
  • Recent suicide of a friend, family member or acquaintance
  • Drug and alcohol abuse
  • Recent major life change, like parents' divorce or remarrying or moving to a new town (and school)
  • Homosexuality in an unsupportive environment
  • Poor peer or family relationships (especially abuse in the home)
  • Access to firearms

That last one -- access to firearms -- is big. Most successful teen suicides are accomplished with guns. Easy access to a gun dramatically increases the risk.

Risk factors, of course, are guidelines. The presence of one or more doesn't indicate a problem. Suicide warning signs, however, can …


More to Explore