Maybe you know that your teen has been struggling with depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder for some time now. Perhaps they’ve even seen a therapist, but their symptoms don’t seem to be improving. As a parent, you’re becoming increasingly worried about your teen’s mental health, and you’re especially concerned about the possibility of suicidal ideation. Yet it’s hard for you to differentiate between your teen silently dealing with suicidal thoughts or another mental health issue.

You don’t want to push them away by intervening, but you want to better understand what your teen might be going through so that you can act if necessary. Here are a few common signs of suicidal ideation in teens.

No Plans or Optimism for the Future

Maybe your teen used to have big plans for their future. They may have talked about going to college, pursuing a trade, joining the military, or applying for a particular job. But now, all of those plans seem to have fallen by the wayside. They might have even refused to apply for college programs or apprenticeships and have neglected their homework.

Your teen may try to get out of commitments they already made, or they might turn down your suggestions to sign up for things in the future. They might talk about the future in a negative way in general, especially if you bring up international events or trends in society.

Breaking Off Relationships and Withdrawing

Perhaps your teen was in a romantic relationship, yet they recently broke things off. Maybe they used to have a number of close friends. Now, they don’t make any effort to reach out to their old friends.

Even when they’re invited somewhere, they turn down the invitation. They might spend hours each day inside their room and resist coming for dinner or watching a movie with the family. Isolation can be a primary warning sign of suicidal ideation.

Neglecting Hygiene and Appearance

You may have noticed that your teen hasn’t been keeping particularly clean. They might be skipping showers, neglecting to do their laundry, foregoing deodorant, or even forgetting to brush their teeth. Your teen might have also dropped other routine grooming habits, like shaving or getting regular haircuts. Their hygiene and appearance no longer seem to matter to them.

Anger and Irritability

Yes, anger and irritability in the teenage years are normal occurrences. Just because your teen is angry or easily frustrated does not mean they are having suicidal thoughts. But if your teen was normally kind and polite, and they’ve suddenly been giving in to angry outbursts, it can be a sign that something is wrong.

You know your teen’s natural temperament, and if they’re rapidly letting go of emotional regulation, it can be an indication that they no longer care about the impact of their words because they’re dealing with suicidal ideation behind the scenes.

Substance Abuse Issues

Teens can turn to substance abuse as a numbing mechanism. For a little while, they can escape from their troubles and find temporary relief from their symptoms. Sometimes, teens find themselves using drugs or alcohol because they do not care about overdosing anymore if they are living with suicidal ideation.

If your teen is using substances to cope with their mental health struggles, it’s important to take notice as a parent and help them find professional help as soon as possible, as this can quickly turn dangerous.

Are you concerned that your teen might be struggling with suicidal ideation? A therapist can help them recover their sense of hope. Reach out to us to learn more about our therapy options for teens.

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