Suicide is always a shock, but it's not without warning. In fact, most teenagers -- either through their behavior or conversation -- exhibit any number of warning signs. The key is knowing what to watch for, whether serious or seemingly inconsequential.
Teenagers who drink alcohol, use drugs, run away from home or withdraw from friends and family are at great risk for suicide. But so are teenagers who don't sleep well, act sullen, appear bored, draw pictures about death or change their eating habits. Even a bad grade in school or trouble with a girlfriend or boyfriend could signal an upcoming suicide attempt.
The idea that there are so many potential warning signs may seem a bit overwhelming, but that's why it pays big dividends to stay tuned in to your teen's internal life. Paying attention also will help you determine whether your teen's sullen attitude is just a normal phase or a sign of a more serious problem, like depression. Depressed teens may exhibit severe trouble concentrating, feel really sad for more than two weeks' time, become quick to anger, isolate themselves from friends or activities, or say they feel "empty" or "hopeless."