POLICE ASSOCIATION OF NOVA SCOTIA 75 TEEN DEPRESSION: A GUIDE FOR PARENTS •Drug and alcohol abuse. Teens may use alcohol or drugs in an attempt to “selfmedicate” their depression. Unfortunately, substance abuse only makes things worse. •Low self-esteem. Depression can trigger and intensify feelings of ugliness, shame, failure, and unworthiness. •Internet addiction. Teens may go online to escape their problems, but excessive computer use only increases their isolation, making them more depressed. •Reckless behavior. Depressed teens may engage in dangerous or high-risk behaviors, such as reckless driving, out-ofcontrol drinking, and unsafe sex. •Violence. Some depressed teens— usually boys who are the victims of bullying—become violent. As in the case of the Columbine and Newtown school massacres, self-hatred and a wish to die can erupt into violence and homicidal rage. Teen depression is also associated with a number of other mental health problems, including eating disorders and self-injury. Suicide warning signs in teenagers Teenagers and Suicide If you suspect that a teenager you know is suicidal, take immediate action! For 24hour suicide prevention and support in the U.S., call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK. To find a suicide helpline outside the U.S., visit Befrienders Worldwide. To learn more about suicide risk factors, warning signs, and what to do in a crisis, read Suicide Prevention. Seriously depressed teens often think about, speak of, or make "attentiongetting" attempts at suicide. But an alarming and increasing number of teenage suicide attempts are successful, so suicidal thoughts or behaviors should always be taken very seriously. For the overwhelming majority of suicidal teens, depression or another psychological disorder plays a primary role. In depressed teens who also abuse alcohol or drugs, the risk of suicide is even greater. Because of the very real danger of suicide, teenagers who are depressed should be watched closely for any signs of suicidal thoughts or behavior. Suicide warning signs in depressed teens • Talking or joking about committing suicide • Saying things like, “I’d be better off dead,” “I wish I could disappear forever,” or “There’s no way out.” • Speaking positively about death or romanticizing dying (“If I died, people might love me more”) • Writing stories and poems about death, dying, or suicide • Engaging in reckless behavior or having a lot of accidents resulting in injury • Giving away prized possessions • Saying goodbye to friends and family as if for the last time • Seeking out weapons, pills, or other ways to kill themselves Encouraging a depressed teen to open up If you suspect that a teenager in your life is suffering from depression, speak up right away. Even if you’re unsure that depression is the issue, the troublesome behaviors and emotions you’re seeing in your teenager are signs of a problem. ►