September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month
What is Suicide/Depression/Hurting Oneself?
Suicide is a major problem among young people in the United States. A suicide is a death by a self-inflicted injury under circumstances in which the individual intended or should have reasonably expected that this injury would result in his or her death. Suicide is the third leading cause of death for young people ages 12–18 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2007).
Symptoms of Depression in children: Awareness of the symptoms of depression is necessary for parents to recognize them in their own children. Many parents fail to recognize their child’s sadness or withdrawal as a serious condition and believe that the phase will pass over time. Failing to recognize childhood depression can result in serious and dangerous consequences. Symptoms of depression include sadness, a feeling of hopelessness, lack of interest in activities that were once enjoyed, lack of energy, changes in sleeping patterns, changes in eating patterns, feelings of worthlessness, irritability, lack of concentration, and persistent complaints of headaches or physical ailments.
Symptoms of Depression in teenagers: Symptoms of depression in teenagers are similar to symptoms of adult depression, with some important differences. Social withdrawal, changes in eating and sleeping habits, dramatic mood swings and preoccupation with death and/or suicide are common in both adults and teens, but many teenagers, instead of appearing sad and withdrawn, often become irritable and aggressive as a result of depression.
Depression & Self-injury in teenagers: Self-injury is an attempt to cope with a problem and not the problem itself. It is often a cry for help (either conscious or unconscious). Most self-injurers experience themselves as being invisible. Ignoring the behavior only validates this belief, possibly causing them to become even more dangerous to themselves. The key is to focus on the underlying feelings and issues rather than focusing on the behavior itself.
Know the Difference: There’s a difference, though, between the “depression” that most of us talk about when we talk about feeling sad, and the kind of depression that’s very serious and sometimes life-threatening. We’ll call this clinical depression (meaning that it’s been identified as a real medical problem) or chronic depression (meaning it goes on for a long time).
Clinical depression is about feeling so sad and hopeless that you sometimes can’t imagine being happy. It’s about being miserable so much of the time that you don’t feel like participating in life. People who are chronically depressed usually have physical problems like stomachaches, headaches, and lack of energy. As you probably know, some people experience such deep depression that they believe suicide is the only way out of their pain.
During the month of September, campuses highlight this topic with information to staff, students and parents. Check out our implementation guide for prevention ideas.