Teen Depression Statistics
Most teens with depression will suffer from more than one episode.
- Episodes of teen depression generally last about 8 months.
- 15% of teens with depression eventually develop bipolar disorder.
- 30 percent of teens suffering from depression will develop problem with substance abuse.
- 60–80% of teens who suffer from depression go untreated.
- Nearly 50% of depressed teens have a family member with depression
or other mental disorder.
Signs of Major Depression in Teens
(Five or more symptoms persist for at least 2 weeks)
- Continual irritability
- Frequent complaints of illness (headache, stomachache, nausea, fatigue)
- Persistent sadness or episodes of crying
- Loss of interest in hobbies and usual activities
- Failure to gain normal weight or weight gain
- Difficulty with sleep (insomnia, early morning waking or sleeping too much)
- Persistent boredom
- Oppositional and/or negative behavior
- Poor school performance or frequent school absence
- Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death among youths ages 15-20.
- Suicides are up 76% in girls aged 10-14.
- Suicides are up 32% in girls aged 15-19.
- Suicides are up 9% in boys aged 15-19.
- Suicide rates for 10-14 year-olds increased 51% in the last 20 years.
- 27% of high school students had thought seriously about attempting suicide.
- 16% of students had made a specific plan to attempt suicide.
- 8% of students had attempted
- The rate of suicide by hanging/suffocation is the most common method among girls 10 to 14.
- Use of a firearm is still the most common method for boys.
Risk Factors for Suicide
- Psychological disorder: depression, bipolar disorder, alcohol and drug use
- Previous suicide attempt
- Family history of depression or suicide
- Suicide of others: family, peers or media figures
- Recent loss: breakup, death of a loved one or pet, divorce
- Physical or sexual abuse
- Self-harming: cutting, burning, picking skin, tearing out hair
- Homosexuality in an unsupportive environment
Why Do Children Attempt Suicide?
- Change: Suicide is a way to change how the child feels or what is happening at that moment.
- Choice: Suicidal behavior is a means to make a choice during circumstances in which there are no choices, or important choices are being taken away.
- Control: The suicidal act is meant to stop behavior, control events or effect change in others.
- Self Punishment: Suicidal behavior is a means to relieve guilt or punish oneself. The child believes he deserves to die.
- Punish Others: The suicidal act is intended to inflict harm or punishment on others,
- Psychotic Illness: The suicidal act is the result of a mental illness or severe medical problem affecting a child’s mental status.
Suicide Warning Signs
- Talks about suicide or makes statements such as: “I won’t be a problem for you much longer”, “It’s no use” and “I won’t see you again”.
- Sudden change in eating habits, either gaining or losing 10% of normal body weight.
- Change in sleeping habits, particularly waking up early.
- Impulsive and aggressive behavior; frequent expressions of rage.
- Withdrawal from friends, family, and regular activities.
- A teen is using drugs and/or alcohol.
- The teen shows an unusual neglect of personal appearance.
- A marked personality change; you know your child, trust your instincts.
- Persistent boredom, difficulty concentrating, or a decline in the quality of schoolwork.
- Frequent complaints of physical symptoms, including fatigue.
- The teen/child gives away favorite possessions/toys, cleans his or her room out.
- He/she exhibits notable cheerfulness after a period of depression.
What Parents Can Do
- Recognize the warning signals.
- Express your concern and offer your support.
- Ask directly about the suicidal thoughts.
- Take every suicide threat, comment or action seriously.
- Listen. You do not have to solve the child’s problem or offer advice.
- Encourage the expression of feelings and offer non-judgmental acceptance.
- Share your feelings: that you too have felt alone, sad, or hopeless at some time.
- Offer hope that alternatives are available.
- Do not offer oversimplified or false reassurances.
What should I do if I think someone is suicidal?
- Do not leave him or her alone.
- Get the person to a hospital emergency room, psychiatric hospital or call 911 or ambulance.
- Eliminate access to firearms or other potential tools for suicide, including unsupervised access to medications.
South Africa Resources:
National Institute of Mental Health-www.NIMH.nih.gov
Mental Health Information-www.HelpGuide.org
National Suicide Prevention Hotline-800-SUICIDE
Teen Suicide Prevention-www.YellowRibbon.org
Information and Resources-www.TeenSuicide.us
Book-Daily Guide to Coping with Depression, www.SavingYourLife.org