Recent Study on Teen Suicide Prevention Could Be The Answer to Saving Previous Lives

Having a teenager struggle with suicidal ideation—and potentially suicide attempts—can be incredibly isolating for parents and their teens, leaving parents heartbroken and scrambling for tools and answers.

One of the more impactful things parents can do is open up the lines of communication with their teen. Yet, no matter how important it is to talk about suicide, it can be incredibly difficult to know where to start. Also, many parents worry that talking with their teen about suicide will only make their suicidal tendencies worse.

For those parents looking for help with their suicidal teens, a new study that focuses on intervention for suicidal teens may help stem the growing teen suicide epidemic.

Recent Study Focused On Providing Suicidal Teens With Greater Support

In this new study, researchers worked with teens already in psychiatric hospitals who were struggling with suicide. The teen participants were between the ages of 13-17. This age group in particular are at risk, as the Center For Disease Control and Prevention showed that between 2007-2016, teen deaths by suicide went up by 56%, making it the second leading cause of death for adolescents.

The intervention that the study was centered on focused on providing suicidal teens with adults they could rely on. Each participating teen chose 3-4 adults they could depend on. Those adults were given tools to help their teens, from a psychoeducational session to learn all about their teen’s diagnosed problems, treatments being provided, communication assistance, suicidal warning signs to watch for, and education on how to best support their teen’s treatment. The chosen support adults also received weekly calls from the intervention staff to help support them as the parents cared for their suicidal teens.

There was also a control group of teens that did not participate in the study but were hospitalized in the same psychiatric hospital. These received the standard care that their needs dictated with no additional education and support for the chosen adults in their lives.

In the end, the study checked on the participating teens and the control group teens over a decade after the trial intervention. Out of the teens who did not receive additional help, thirteen of them had died, while those teens who had participated with supportive adults, there were only two deaths.

Why Supportive And Educated Adults Can Impact Teen Suicide

While that is a stark survival difference, it is not initially clear why the intervention and education of parents made such a significant impact.

One of the strongly considered reasons to why the participating teens had a higher survival rate is due to the educated parents and caregivers. As parent advocates, Help Your Teen Now can attest to the effectiveness of educated parents when it comes to helping troubled teens.

It can be hard for parents to understand their teen’s struggles, whether it is with depression, bullying, relationship difficulties, especially as many parents tend to think, “It can’t be that hard. Teens don’t have bills or other real problems.” But often, these parents forget what it was like before they gained the perspective to see teenage problems as “no big deal”.

For an example of perspective development, say a teen just had their first breakup. In the grand scheme of things, a first breakup is one of many and something to learn from. But, for a teen, that first breakup heartbreak is as real as a divorce. It is a teen’s first taste of romantic pain, and while many teens survive it, making it past the pain is what helps with future breakups and romantic setbacks. Without the right tools and support, those painful feelings can seep into all aspects of a teen’s life.

Also, unlike that example, there usually isn’t just one issue that causes a teen to struggle with suicide. Often, it is a potent combination of social anxiety, isolation, depression, and other external factors such as bullying, health issues, and negative coping habits like substance abuse.

When the adults in a teen’s support system understand the complexity of a suicidal teen’s struggles, they are far more empowered to help their loved one.

Resources For Parents Of Suicidal Teens

Now, where do parents and caregivers find those resources that can help them best support their troubled teen? Well, there are a number of excellent resources that can help, such as:

  • Awareness groups – There are a number of suicide awareness groups online, and you may have local resources you can rely on for information. With World Suicide Prevention Day on September 19, and National Suicide Prevention Week from September 8–14, you likely can find even more resources as sites develop new educational programs.
  • Therapy – Engaging in individual and family therapy can help bring the whole family together and allow your teen to work through the root of their struggles. Also, as the caregiver, attending therapy on your own can provide you with a safe outlet for your own struggles. It is best to look for therapists who specialize in working with troubled teens as well as families.
  • Therapeutic boarding schools – For teens who need significantly more assistance with both therapy and other life skills without neglecting other aspects like academics, boarding schools that emphasize therapy can be revolutionary for teens dealing with suicidal tendencies.

There is no magic formula to helping teens overcome their struggles with suicide. But by educating yourself and providing the support your teen needs, you can help significantly increase your teen’s chances at a better future.

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