The first time I ever recall thinking about hurting myself was at the age of 12. I don’t remember why, but I remember feeling like the world was caving in on me. This feeling has visited me time and time again… even into my adult years. The feeling left me when I found the love of the Creator and hasn’t returned since.
Last summer, one of my best friends from childhood, committed suicide. I was left feeling like I failed him as a friend. Why didn’t I know things were this bad? Why didn’t I recognize the symptoms? These were the thoughts running through my head.
What I have learned is this; suicide is often the result of someone suffering from some level of mental illness. Mental illness comes in all shapes and sizes. Mental illness is not always diagnosed or easy to recognize. And the truth is, young people are not likely to express to you, the parent, teacher, coach, mentor, etc. that they are depressed. So here are some things to look for that may help you identify if a young person is depressed. Being able to identify this behavior can prevent future harm of a young person.
Symptoms of teen depression:
(Present for more than two weeks and affects daily functioning)
- Persistent sad, irritable mood
- Sense of hopelessness
- Withdrawal from friends, family, activities
- Lack of energy and enthusiasm
- Changes in appetite and sleeping patterns
- Risky behaviors
- Suicidal thoughts
If you see these signs or symptoms, it is important to talk with your child or student about what you are observing. It may be uncomfortable, but it is necessary. Then be sure to get them help! There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about my friend. He may have been feeling depressed since childhood, just like me! However, he never addressed those feelings and now he is no longer here. Let’s help prevent a young person from ever getting to the point of taking their own life!