Being a teenager can be pretty stressful. Peer pressure, schoolwork, romances, and
extracurricular activities are tasks which can keep a teen constantly on the go with little time for relaxation. So, what happens when life is simply too much? When teens are intensely stressed, they are at greater risk of self-harm and even suicide.
Earlier this year, USA Today reported that the rate of teenage suicide doubled from 2008 to 2015. In July, Houston Public Media revealed an official report from the CDC in which the suicide rate for LGBTQ teens in Texas is now a high of 42 percent. While there is no one set reason why a teen may attempt or commit suicide, there are some theories such a lack of mental health services in public schools or teens not realizing they need to reach out to a trusted adult for help. Additionally, mental health services can be expensive and certain teens’ parents do not always have the financial ability to fund these services for their child.
There are some signs teens may show during a mental health crisis. These can include, but are not limited to, intense anger, extreme worry, feeling out of control, using drugs or alcohol, practicing self-harm behavior such as cutting or excessive physical activity, engaging in dangerous behavior, and feeling hopeless. Other signs include a change in sleep habits, a sudden decline in grades, and a lack of interest in hobbies the teen previously enjoyed. Some of these signs are often confused with “typical teen angst,” but it’s important to consider that these behaviors could be a sign of something much deeper.
Once a teen is diagnosed by a medical professional, parents, relatives, and friends are encouraged to support the teen. Support varies from teen to teen, but it can be something as simple as saying words of affirmation, showing greater affection, doing fun, relaxing activities the teen enjoys, and letting the teen know they are loved and cherished.
Fortunately, help is available to teens, even for those who cannot afford to see a licensed professional counselor. The National Alliance on Mental Illness runs the website www.ok2talk.org, in which teens can call 1-800-273-TALK anytime for immediate help. For teens who prefer texting rather than a phone call, there is The Crisis Text Line. By texting the word HOME to 741741, teens can share their thoughts with a trained crisis counselor for help. This source is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Being a teen can be challenging, but it’s okay to reach out when life gets too difficult to handle. With resources like the ones listed above, there is hope for teens to get the help they need to feel better mentally.