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Half of parents unaware of their children having suicidal thoughts, says study
Feb 15 2019

Half of parents unaware of their children having suicidal thoughts, says study

Mental Health

Suicide continues to rank among the leading causes of deaths among adolescents and teens. This is because majority of the parents are unaware of their adolescent children nurturing suicidal thoughts, revealed a recent study. According to the study, published in the journal Pediatrics in January 2019, nearly 50 percent parents had no idea that their children were thinking of killing themselves. In addition, a whopping 76 percent parents were unaware that their adolescents were entertaining recurrent thoughts of death.

Researchers also found that nearly 48 percent adolescents whose parents thought they had suicidal thoughts denied having any such thoughts. Similarly, opposite to what their parents perceived, around 67 percent adolescents denied any thoughts of death. The findings reflected a disagreement between what parents perceived about their children’s thoughts and what children actually thought. This might be a result of lack of communication between parents and children. Many researchers see lack of communication or absence of a bond between parents and children as a cause of behavioral problems in children.

Link between parenting behavior and suicide ideation

Another study, published by the University of Cincinnati, suggested a relationship between parenting behaviors and suicide among adolescents. The study highlighted that children between the ages of 12 and 17 were more vulnerable to the risk of contemplating, planning and attempting suicide if they did not find their parents’ behaviors caring. Children expected their parents to exhibit certain behaviors that made them feel loved and cared; failing which they started to feel dejected and developed suicidal thoughts.

The study found that children aged 12-13 years, whose parents had never or rarely told them they made them proud, had respectively five and seven times higher risk of having suicidal thoughts and attempting suicide compared to their peers.

Growing incidence of suicidal behavior in teens

According to a 2017 national survey of adolescents, 7.4 percent attempted suicide one or more times during the past 12 months, 13.6 percent reported an active plan and 17.2 percent seriously thought of suicide. Unfortunately, around 40 percent adolescents thinking about suicide act on these thoughts.

Suicide is an impulsive act that may result from severe stress. Factors including mental illnesses like bipolar disorder, major depression, substance abuse, and personality disorders may also contribute to the risk of suicidal ideation.

Suicidal behavior that involves suicidal thoughts, plans and attempts as well as the associated stigmatization may lead to reduced self-esteem, psychological distress, and poor quality of life. Further, it may delay teens and their parents from seeking treatment, thereby affecting treatment outcomes.

Family and caretakers need to be aware of early warning signs of suicidal behavior in order to nip the problem in the bud. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) suggests a few signs that may indicate suicidal behavior. These include:

  • Talking about feeling unbearable pain
  • Talking hopelessly or losing interest in living
  • Talking about killing oneself or the desire to die
  • Feelings of isolation
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Irregular sleep patterns
  • Looking for ways to kill oneself
  • Increasing substance abuse

Treatment for suicidal behavior

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), 90 percent people who die by suicide had a diagnosable mental disorder at the time of their deaths. Suicidal behavior can be treated using psychological and biological treatment interventions, aimed at addressing the underlying mental health problems that contribute to the risk of suicide.

Psychotherapies such as cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) are known to have a favorable effect on people vulnerable to suicide attempts. If you know a teen battling mental health problems, including suicidal behavior, encourage them to get professional support as soon as possible.

ADEONA Healthcare specializes in treating suicidal behavior in teens aged 12-17. Our modern mental health facility in California offers comprehensive treatment programs to help teens deal with their problems. To find out more about how we can help your teen regain control over their lives, call our 24/7 treatment helpline (888) 997-3966 and speak to a representative. You can also chat online and take the first step to help the teen lead a normal life.