Sunday, October 12, 2014
Parental Awareness, Understanding Key to Preventing Suicide Among Young Adults
Vulnerable age group
In the United States, young adult and teen suicide is the third leading cause of death for those between ages 10 and 24, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The State Adolescent Health Resource Center of the Konopka Institute, University of Minnesota explains that young adults and late teens are in the stage of development in which they develop a sense of self as an individual and as a person, moving from identifying themselves as an extension of their parents (childhood) to recognizing their uniqueness and separation from their parents.
Tips for parents
Yellowbrick offers the following tips parents can use to support young adults going through depression or who may be having suicidal thoughts:
1. Look for warning signs.
Although studies show that there is no reliable indicator for impending suicide, there are warning signs an emerging adult is at risk for suicide. These include:
• Expressions of despair
2. Watch out for mental illness.
Any form of mental illness, such as depression (especially bipolar depression), can increase a young adult’s risk of suicide. Individuals with anorexia nervosa have a high rate of suicide and death due to the effects of starvation on mood and judgment.
3. Be aware that substance abuse and addiction significantly increase suicide risk.
Smoking, drinking alcohol and use of illicit drugs (e.g. marijuana, shabu, etc.) accelerate the risk of suicide from other mental illness while also carrying a three-fold higher rate of death than suicide from accidental overdose.
4. Check your family history and your children’s friends
Many forms of mental illness and addictions have a genetic component, i.e. they can be inherited. As such, a family history of suicide is a risk factor. Peer influences can also increase a young adult’s risk of suicide.
How to support a young adult who has attempted suicide
Parents need to keep a close watch on a young adult who has attempted suicide. Young adults who have tried to take their own life are at increased risk of making another suicide attempt.
A warning from Yellowbrick: “Feelings of shame and guilt triggered by the suicide attempt may increase actual or perceived social isolation and personal failure, which can heighten pre-existing emotional tensions in a young adult. Feelings of irreparable isolation and/or loss are a key driver of suicide.”