Teen suicide prevention starts not with the teen, but with the adults surrounding the teen. This includes parents, teachers, role models, or anyone else with a close relationship with the teen. Recognizing the warning signs of suicide can drastically improve the likelihood of teen suicide prevention, and knowing what to do when those warning signs occur is important for everyone in the teen's life. Parents should also be aware of the situations and habits that can increase the likelihood of teen suicide to help eliminate such stressful situations and relationships. Teachers should be ready and willing to take advantage of the school's support staff if the teacher suspects a teen might be suicidal.
To best understand the steps necessary for teen suicide prevention, adults should learn more about what causes a teen to consider suicide. In many cases, the desire to commit suicide stems from problems at home, personal identity issues, or undiagnosed mental conditions. Divorce, abuse at home, loss of a loved one, or other stressful situations at home can lead a teen to begin contemplating suicide, and teen suicide prevention starts with identifying students who are at high risk because of these issues. In some cases, a teen may not exhibit any warning signs of suicide, so knowing what the teens are experiencing at home or in their personal lives can become a crucial step in teen suicide prevention.
Teens who are considering suicide will very often exhibit some warning signs. Violent mood swings, withdrawal, a lack of interest in hobbies, a drop in performance at school or at a job, or even talking openly about suicide can all be considered warning signs that a teen may be considering suicide. As parents and teachers, adults are responsible for taking such warning signs seriously and not writing them off as melodrama. In many cases, teens will exhibit these signs as a 'cry for help', or to indicate to an adult that something is wrong. Self-mutilation is another overt sign that a teen may be considering suicide; while this is certainly an alarming warning sign, it is also a health hazard in itself and should be dealt with immediately by a mental health professional.
Many adults do not feel comfortable talking directly to a teen who might be considering suicide. If this is the case, that adult should actively seek out someone who is comfortable with the student and who can develop a strong relationship with that student. Ignoring the warning signs is a crucial mistake many adults make, and it is easily avoidable; if the warning signs are there, seek out someone who is ready and willing to help.