Experts say building relationships and emphasizing strong connections with family, schools and the community are key strategies to protect against teen depression and suicide.
The connections are essential as a new paper reports that depression and suicide are “intricately intertwined among teens.”
Researchers say untreated depression is one of the leading causes of teen suicide, and signs of depression can also be a warning that a teen is contemplating suicide. In a new article in the journal The Prevention Researcher, University of Cincinnati researchers describe how positive connections can help offset these tragedies.
UC researchers Drs. Keith King, a professor of health promotion, and Rebecca Vidourek, an assistant professor of health promotion, discuss the link between teen depression and suicide by reviewing three specific categories that are warning signs:
- Behavioral warning signs – Traits that teens may display when contemplating suicide include difficulty sleeping or excessive sleeping; changes in school performance; loss of interest in once pleasurable activities; giving away cherished possessions; expressing thoughts of death or suicide;
- Verbal warning signs – Verbal statements include, “I want to die;” “I don’t want to be a burden anymore; “My family would be better off without me”;
- Stressful life events – A traumatic event for the teen, such as a breakup, parental divorce or loss of a loved one.
King and Vidourek also focus on national research that finds that gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered teenagers are at an elevated risk for depression and suicide. These risk factors could reflect a lack of support systems and social acceptance, as well as greater isolation among peers for these groups.
The UC researchers say building strong connections with family, schools and the community are key to protection against depression and teen suicide.
“Research clearly indicates family connectedness helps to prevent teen suicide, even if teens are socially isolated from peers,” write the authors.
They add that because teens spend such a large amount of time in school, schools should adopt prevention and intervention programs that include education, early detection and followup programs to address teen depression and suicide.
“As research indicates, the key component to effective depression/suicide prevention is the development of positive social and emotional connections among teens and supportive adults,” the authors conclude in the article.
“Thus, getting teens positively connected to positive people and positive situations should remain the goal.”
Source: University of Cincinnati