By Sandhya, age 26, South Carolina
How would you feel if you woke up one morning and found out that while you were sleeping your best friend in the whole world had committed suicide? Would you wonder why? Would you blame yourself, his or her parents, schoolteachers, a priest or therapist?
Teen suicides happen every day. According to the CDC, suicide is the third leading cause of death in the 15 to 24 year old age group. Although girls are twice as likely to attempt suicide as boys, boys tend to use more fatal methods, such as shooting themselves with a gun, which leads to more completed suicides among boys.*
So, how do you know if a friend might be suicidal? Here are some warning signs to watch out for:
- Your friend talks about suicide in specific terms (for example, "I'm thinking about just ending it all"), or in vague terms (such as, "I'm so tired - I want to sleep forever", or "I just want to go away").
- Your friend starts to give away his or her possessions.
- Your friend seems tired, and is starting to pull away from friends and activities he or she previously liked.
- Your friend does not have a support system at home.
What can you do if you see these warning signs? First of all, talk to your friend. Ask her in a straightforward manner if she is suicidal. Contrary to popular belief, asking about suicide does not "put the thought" in someone's mind. Most people who talk about suicide are seriously contemplating it, so be sure to take her comments very seriously.
If you decide that your friend is suicidal, convince her to get help. If she doesn't feel comfortable talking to her parents about it, she could talk to another adult; school guidance counselors or religious leaders are a good bet.
If your friend refuses to get help, it is up to you to decide what you want to do next. You could talk to her parents, the school guidance counselor, or some other adult close to your friend. You might want them to keep your name out of any discussions that happen, so that your friendship is not damaged, and that is okay. The most important thing is to notify people who you are worried about your friend. All completed suicides could have been prevented if the person had had some form of a support system. Finally, your friend (or even you) could call the National Suicide Hotline (in the United States) at: 1-800-SUICIDE (or 1-800-784-2433) to talk, unload, and receive a sympathetic listening ear. (Other countries have similar telephone hotlines.)
If you are reading this article, and are suicidal, please remember: you are not alone.
* According to Kid's Health