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Warning Signs of Suicide in Teens and Young Adults

Black teen looks directly at camera. He's standing in front of a wall that reads "Tomorrow will bring good things. Stay alive to see it." Image reinforces the importance of knowing the warning signs of suicide in teens and young adults.

Have you noticed the recent spike in conversations about suicide and teen depression? Young people are facing struggles like never before, and the number of completed suicides by teens are continuing to increase. It’s essential to know the warning signs of suicide and ways to provide support when someone is in crisis.

As a parent, a friend, a sibling, or a teacher, however, it is not always easy to know when someone you care about needs help. While it is natural to want to do everything you can to help the struggling person, that begins by being aware of the warning signs of suicide. This way, if someone does need help, you can take action quickly.

In this article, we will discuss how to recognize common warning signs of suicide in teens and young adults, how to support them during this difficult time, and some therapies that may be beneficial in providing lasting relief.

Recognizing Warning Signs of Suicide in Teens & Young Adults

When someone you love is dealing with severe depression, anxiety, or anger and these feelings continue over time or worsen, they may be at risk for suicide. Recognizing the warning signs of teen depression and suicide might be one of the most critical skills a person can have if they have a loved one who is living with a mental health disgnosis.

Some common warning signs that a person might need help:

  • Expressing feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, or guilt
  • Increased use of alcohol and drugs
  • Talking about having no reason to live
  • Withdrawal from family and friends
  • Change in their everyday routine
  • Statements about killing themselves
  • Extreme personality changes (either dramatic lows or highs)

Sometimes these warning signs are overlooked; many young people with mental health problems are never diagnosed—or even worse—not taken seriously when they seek help. Left unaddressed, depression can worsen, leading to more severe issues like suicidal ideation, self-harm, and other high-risk behaviors. If you spot any of these warning signs in your loved one, then it’s important to secure proper clinical help for them as soon as possible. The best course of action would be for them to visit a mental health professional who can assess the situation and create a course of treatment specifically tailored for them.

Image of a boy in a dark hallway, sitting in front of a locker with his hands on his head demonstrating teen depression.

Coping Strategies for Teens Dealing with Mental Health Struggles

Anyone with suicide-risk behaviors can look to Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for help. Both therapy methods are evidence-based treatments that have been well-researched, with proven results in treating mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. What makes these therapies so effective is that they don’t just help manage crises—they help individuals identify their triggers before they become overwhelmed by a situation. This allows teens to build more robust coping mechanisms before they reach the point of being at risk for suicide.

CBT focuses on changing behaviors, thoughts, and feelings by understanding one’s thinking patterns. Alternatively, DBT helps individuals learn how to develop mindfulness, or the ability to stay present in the moment, drawing from the belief that moment-by-moment awareness can help people better understand their experiences and cope with their distress. CBT and DBT provide a safe space for teenagers to explore what’s troubling them without feeling awkward or embarrassed. A therapist can help guide them through the process by providing real-world advice on handling their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.

For teens struggling with their mental health, it’s vital that they know these approaches exist—and that they don’t have to manage their struggles alone. Various resources are available for those in need, from school counselors, therapists, and organizations like The Trevor ProjectProject Semicolon, and Crisis Text Line, which offer hotlines, websites, and other resources to help people manage their mental health in a crisis and someone willing to lend an ear during times of need.

Tips on How to Support Someone Struggling with their Mental Health

Knowing how to help when struggling with mental health issues can be challenging. Whether you’re dealing with struggles or a loved one looking for ways to support them, here are a few tips:

Listen Non-Judgmentally

The most critical thing in any support is active listening. It’s okay if you don’t have answers—often, just being heard is enough. Ensure they feel listened to and honestly heard; being non-judgmental and understanding is key.

Educate Yourself

You can learn more about mental health issues through informational resources, like books or articles on the subject matter. Understanding their struggles better and learning how best to provide support will help foster an open dialog to prevent further troubles.

Offer Kindness & Pressure-Free Encouragement

Encourage them to seek professional help—but without pressure or judgment. Please don’t force them into anything; this could push them away from getting help. Everyone responds differently to encouragement; some may need more time than others before they’re ready to talk about it. In addition, offer kindness in and out of the conversation: send cute texts throughout the day or remind them that their feelings are valid and appreciated regardless of what’s going on in their lives.

Get Support for Your Teen at Suffolk DBT in NYC and Long Island today!

Image of two teens and a DBT group facilitator representing mental health support in NYC and Long Island.

Unfortunately, the warning signs of suicide in teens and young adults may not always be obvious. However, it’s essential to recognize the possible signs and understand how to support them if you think they might be in crisis.

While parents, guardians, teachers, and loved ones may feel responsible for helping to prevent suicide, it’s important to remember that they cannot “fix” the person. Offering support and resources is essential if a person exhibits any warning signs. In addition to calling hotlines or visiting websites for help, it may be beneficial to consider DBT and CBT therapies and groups for their unique benefits in helping teens manage their struggles before reaching these stages and supporting them in healing. In-person and online therapy for teens is available at Suffolk DBT.

If you, or a loved one, are looking for mental health support in NYC and Long Island, please contact our therapists at Suffolk DBT to schedule a free 15-minute consultation. We specialize in providing DBT services for childrenteensyoung adults, college students, and families.

Hear How We’ve Helped Other Families

DBT skills for teens and families can support them in moving towards happier, healthier habits and relationships. See testimonials from parents and individuals like you here.

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