Young Adults and Suicide
Suicide is a mental health problem affecting the lives of young adults. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cites suicide to be the third leading cause of death for people between the ages of 10 and 24. In order to prevent suicide of young adults, families need to talk about it.
Suicide is a choice that can be hard to understand and approach without judgment, and discussing the risk of suicide with young adults may feel uncomfortable. Since young adults tend to bottle up their feelings and avoid expressive conversations, parents may be unaware of the risk of suicide or unsure of how to communicate with their son or daughter regarding mental wellness.
As the Founder & Executive Medical Director of Yellowbrick, I hope to break the stigma related to young adult suicide by offering information for parents. Yellowbrick provides psychiatric treatment to people at risk for suicide and therapeutic services to those who have survived failed suicide attempts.
I created the resource Parenting Young Adults: 9 Vital Answers About Depression And Suicide so that parents may begin to understand the risk factors of young adult suicide and learn how to offer guidance and support after a failed suicide attempt. While impending suicide does not have truly reliable indicators, parents should pay attention to social and emotional behaviors that may point toward potential problems.
Young adults may be contemplating suicide if they are unusually secretive or socially isolated from others. In addition, signs and expressions of depression, like loss of interest, disrupted sleep patterns, or overwhelming feelings of hopelessness, may indicate the possibility of impending suicide. When young adults struggle with illnesses that may have a psychotic component, especially bipolar disorder and anorexia nervosa, their risk of suicide increases.
Making a social and emotional recovery from a failed suicide attempt involves support from family, friends, and professionals. Young adults are advised to take part in therapeutic programs in order to process emotions and their decision to attempt suicide. While participating in mental health services like counseling or group therapy, young adults are in a safe and supportive setting and may finally feel comfortable exploring their vulnerabilities.
Young adults also recuperate when they feel a sense of meaning or belonging. People feel good when they find meaning to their lives and when they feel like a part of a group. Resuming activities they once enjoyed and repairing relationships with friends and family will help young adults recover from a failed suicide attempt.
Parents may internalize feelings of guilt, shame, anger or blame after their young adult’s failed suicide attempt. It is important for parents to accept the situation, approach their son or daughter without judgment, and offer support.
Parents may benefit from seeking counseling or joining a support group as well. When parents listen without bias or blame, offer empathy and understanding, and openly communicate with their young adult, they may be preventing a future suicide attempt.
Viner, J. (2014). Young Adults and Suicide. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 10, 2016, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2014/07/07/young-adults-and-suicide/