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Adolescent suicide

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Updated: 1/14/2003 11:29 am
Pregnancy, drug abuse, and suicide by teenagers have all increased at alarmingly high rates, which the late pediatrician Dr. Benjamin Spock attributed to a lack of spiritual beliefs to sustain adolescents, and parents who lacked beliefs to inspire them with. Threats by adolescents to commit suicide always should be taken seriously because, unlike adults, children aren't as likely to be using the threat merely to manipulate and control others. You may want to contact a physician for advice or referral. If your child is threatening suicide, stay with the child, or make certain the child remains in the company of a responsible adult. It may be necessary to hospitalize the adolescent for safety, as well as for further assessment and the initiation of treatment. Be alert to indications that children are planning to harm themselves. Some signs may include: recent loss of interest in a favorite activity, plans to give away favorite possessions, expressions of intense guilt or hopelessness, or any comment or behavior that indicates the child isn't planning future activities. If the child has suffered a recent major loss or humiliation, or if there've been other suicides among adolescents in your community or in your family, these also could be triggers. If your child threatens, talks, or jokes about suicide, talk to him or her about it. Bringing up the subject doesn't encourage it but, rather, will make it less likely to happen. Any self-destructive act, whether planned or not, should be taken very seriously. Take the child for a physical evaluation. After any medical problems have been treated, seek professional help, either outpatient counseling or hospitalization.

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