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Teen Suicide Warning Signs

Teen Suicide Warning Signs – tips to recognize warning signs for teen suicide and advice on how to provide support and prevention to help those in need.

The recent sudden increase of bullying enforced suicides/teen suicides, including the tragic loss of a Rochester High School teen, is prompting serious concern from parents about the subject and ensuring children’s safety.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), suicide was the 10th leading cause of death in 2007 and accounted for 34,598 deaths. In many instances suicide can be preventable. Although not all individuals planning on taking their own life tell others about it directly, there are often teen suicide warning signs that suggest a risk of suicide is present.


Most of us know at least a few people experiencing mental health issues such as depression. Depression can range in intensity from mild to moderate to more severe. A significant number of those suffering from depression do not receive any professional help for their distress. The unfortunate reality is that untreated depression is the number one cause of suicide.

Thus, the best way to prevent teen suicide is to recognize the teen suicide warning signs and seek professional help when indicated. Although we are not always sure when someone is serious about suicide and experiencing severe depression, we should assume individuals with suicide warning signs are at risk for suicide and likely a threat to themselves.

Teen Suicide Warning Signs

  • Talking or writing about death, dying or suicide
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Feeling hopeless and helpless
  • Sad or depressed most of the time and have a hard time functioning
  • Looking for ways to kill oneself, attempting to get the means
  • Talking about how bad their life is and seeing no reason to live
  • Increased use of alcohol or drugs
  • Seeking revenge or having intense rage
  • Feeling trapped in a situation
  • Loss of interest in many activities
  • Giving away belongings
  • Acting recklessly or impulsively
  • Giving up at school or work
  • Saying goodbye to other people
  • One or more previous suicide attempts
  • Writing a will or making future plans for affairs

If you or someone you know is experiencing some of these teen suicide warning signs, symptoms, depression is most likely being experienced and suicide is a risk. Help is available and should be sought out.  If you are suffering from depression, tell a parent, a friend, a teacher, a school counselor, a religious advisor, or a relative. If you know someone experiencing depression, talk to this individual and encourage them to seek help. Offer to go with them to get help. Maybe provide them with names and numbers of who to call for help (as they may have no motivation to get better). You may even initiate treatment and help for them.

In terms of professional help, there is outpatient and inpatient treatment depending on the severity of the teen suicide warning signs. You could contact a psychologist, psychiatrist or a local hospital. 911 can be called if indicated and the situation is serious. Often the ideal treatment plan would include psychotherapy and medication management of symptoms (psychotropic medication). There are suicide organizations, many of which offer immediate help and crisis counseling. Two of these numbers are 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) and 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255). Tell someone, reach out and get the help that is needed, whether it is for you or someone you know. Early intervention is ideal for it could save a life. Although depression is common and affects a profound number of people, it can be treated and when it is, people can function more optimally and live a life less impacted by emotional suffering.

Dr. Marcie Weitzman Zoref is a licensed clinical psychologist with a private practice in Birmingham, Michigan. She works with children, adolescents and adults in individual and conjoint psychotherapy, as well as conducts psychological and psycho-educational testing. She is a member of the American Psychological Association, the Michigan Psychological Association and the Michigan Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence.  She is recognized by the National Register of Health Service Providers in Psychology, in addition to being a CAQH (Counsel of Affordable Quality Healthcare) provider.

Marcie Weitzman Zoref, Psy.D.
950 East Maple Road, Suite 207
Birmingham, MI 48009
248-593-9595 –

See related posts below for more from Dr. Marcie Weitzman Zoref. To contact her office, visit

This teen suicide warning signs article was originally posted for Oakland County Moms in 2011.

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