Suicide in Young Adults

Suicide in Young AdultsSuicide in young adults and adolescents is one of the most troubling issues facing any of us dealing with depression.

This post, provided by Yellowbrick, speaks specifically to parents; however, we find that it is a useful resource for all of us who have adolescents and young adults in our lives.

Of particular importance is point number 8; it can be very helpful for someone who is depressed to have loved ones ask about, listen to, and validate their experience and feelings.

For more information about suicide and suicide prevention, please visit San Francisco Suicide Prevention’s website.

Also, feel free to join and participate in our online member’s only forum where this and other topics are discussed in a private forum for other’s who are wrestling with issues related to depression.

Depression and Suicide in Young Adults: A Parent’s Guide

As the third leading cause of death for adolescents and young adults between the ages of 10 and 24, suicide is a vital topic for parents to educate themselves on. While it may feel like an uncomfortable topic, it is important to become familiar with common warning sides in order to make it easier to monitor your teenager and communicate if there is a problem.

Below, we tackle nine common questions regarding depression and suicide in emerging adults. These, as well as the attached infographic by Yellowbrick, can help you feel more comfortable with the subject of suicide, and better informed about its signs, myths, and implications.

  1. What are risk signs for suicide? While studies show that there is no set, reliable indicator of suicide, there are several possible signs to watch for. These include keeping secrets, isolation, depression, and expressions of despair.

  2. Do specific mental illnesses carry a higher risk of suicide? All psychotic illnesses (including disorders like schizophrenia) have a higher rate of suicide, as well as a higher rate of early death from poor health care. Depression, and especially bipolar depression, also carry a higher risk of suicide. Anorexia nervosa has a high rate of death and suicide due to the effects of starvation on mood and judgment.

  3. How do substance abuse and addiction play a role in suicide in emerging adults? Substance abuse accelerates the risk of suicide from other mental illnesses. Overdosing is also a serious health concern, and emerging adults who struggle with substance abuse actually have a three times higher rate of death by overdose than by suicide.

  4. Is suicide genetic? While suicide itself is not genetic, genetic vulnerability plays a role in many mental illnesses and addictions. Family and peer influences may also increase the risk of suicide.

  5. How does a suicide attempt affect mental health? The impact on brain health depends on the method of the attempt and whether there was any direct physical impact on the structure of the brain. Even if there is no brain trauma, there is a gateway effect in the risk-reward center of the brain when a young adult makes an attempt on their own life, and this makes it easier to make a repeat attempt.

  6. What are the social and emotional health concerns following a young adult’s suicide attempt? While this will vary by individual, it’s common for young adults to experience feelings of shame and guilt, which can increase actual or perceived social isolation and feelings of personal failure. This, in turn, can heighten pre-existing emotional tensions.

  7. What steps can young adults take to recover from a suicide attempt? One of the best things that a young adult can do is to seek professional assistance in order to better understand the emotional and neurological contributors to the experience. It’s also important for young adults to repair relationships with friends and family who they may have become isolated from, as well as to return to activities that they find meaningful and enjoyable.

  8. What can parents do to help young adults after a suicide attempt? Although you may be feeling strong emotions after a child’s suicide attempt, it’s important to demonstrate acceptance and a lack of judgment. Offer your support; empathize with your child even if they are angry they survived the attempt (which is common) rather than forcing them to stifle those feelings. Establish a safe, honest, and open communication channel so that your child will feel more comfortable coming to you for help rather than expecting you to read his or her mind.

  9. What suicide prevention methods work for emerging adults? Because isolation is a major risk factor for suicide, it’s important for young adults to rebuild connections, establish healthy channels of communication, and develop strategies to build emotional resilience.