Monday, January 30, 2012


(This blog is written to inform parents and others of disturbing trends of teenagers.)

I first posted this article in June 2009, but I felt the need to bring this post back to the forefront, because teen suicide is still a growing problem.  Four of my daughter's friends committed suicide within the last six months, including a 19-year-old male, who shot himself last night.  I think this is every mother's nightmare.

Below are the signs, symptoms, and risk factors for teen suicide that parents, teachers, etc. need to be aware of, but if your teen has a friend or close relative who commits suicide, you will want to stay close and alert to ensure your teen doesn't lapse into a deep depression that could also end in suicide.  (Suicide of one teen often leads to others.)  Talk to your teen about what happened, let him/her talk about his/her feelings, and about the friend they lost...the good times they had together, etc.  If needed, you should have your teen talk to the school counselor to help him/her through this tragic loss.

Each year, thousands of teenagers commit suicide. Suicide is the third leading cause of death among 15- to 24-year-olds and the fourth leading cause of death among 10- to 14-year-olds.

  • There is an estimated 8 to 25 attempted suicides to one completed suicide - with the ratio even higher among youth.
  • Out of 100,000 teens, 2,000 to 3,000 have a mood disorder, in which 8 to 10 will commit suicide.
  • Males are four times more likely to die from suicide than females.
  • Females are more likely to attempt suicide than males.
  • Males tend to use more lethal methods to commit suicide, such as firearms, hanging, or jumping from heights, while females attempt suicide by overdose or cutting.


  • Breakup with girlfriend or boyfriend is the #1 risk factor.
  • Failing or doing badly on a test.
  • Feeling humiliated.
  • Death of a friend, family member or pet.
  • Loss of parent due to divorce.
  • Physical or sexual abuse.
  • Being a victim of bullying.
  • Teenagers who are gay, lesbian or transgender are three times more likely to commit suicide than heterosexual teens.
  • Starting a new school.
  • A family history of suicide.
  • A previous suicide attempt.
  • Being part of the Gothic culture. 47% of teens who are a part of the Gothic culture attempt suicide. This can be attributed to the music they listen to, the rituals they participate in, and the websites they visit. This culture usually attracts teens who already demonstrate risk factors, such as depression, self harm, and feelings of hopelessness. (Rutledge, Rimer, & Scott, 2008.)
  • Changes in eating and sleep habits,
  • Withdrawal from family and friends.
  • Taking unnecessary risks.
  • Physical deterioration (weight loss, fatigue, frequent complaints of illness).
  • Loss of interest in usual activities.
  • Marked personality change.
  • Neglect of personal appearance.
  • Written warning signs - The teen may write poems or notes to friends, parents or teachers expressing unhappiness with his life or he may insert a disguised message in a homework assignment.
  • Preoccupation with death and dying.
  • Marked preference for books, song lyrics, and movies that represent death, suicide or self destruction.
  • Verbal signals - Comments made by a teen, such as "I wish I were dead", "Nothing matters", "I want to go to sleep and never wake up" should never be ignored.
  • Becomes suddenly cheerful after a period of depression. (This usually signals that the teen has made up his mind to commit suicide, and he feels a sense of relief and happiness.)
  • Cleaning his or her room, throwing away important belongings, stating "I won't be needing _______________ anymore" is a way of putting his or her affairs in order.
  • Giving away personal possessions serves as a final goodbye.
  • If a teen writes out a will and/or plans a funeral, suicide will soon follow. (Kirk, W.G. 1993)
Even though all parents need to be aware of the above warning signs, every teenager behaves differently, and the warning signs are not always so obvious.

In 2004, Hollie had been in her room talking on the phone. My mind was miles away when Hollie walked in crying and shaking, and she kept saying, “I can’t stop”. Then I noticed the small blade in her hand. (For those who have read my other posts, you know I would search Hollie's room for these blades, so I was surprised that she had one.) I looked down, and she had 20 to 25 cuts on each of her legs. (These weren’t deep cuts.) The next hour or so is a blur, but I called Hollie’s doctor, who told me to take her to the ER, and he would have an intake counselor from Brentwood Behavioral Health meet us there.

While talking with the counselor, she asked Hollie if she was suicidal, and Hollie said “yes”. Now I’m standing there in shock thinking, "how could I not know my child was suicidal”! I mean, I'm all up in Hollie's business, all the time. I know who, what, when, where, and for how long every time she walks out the front door.

Hollie didn’t demonstrate any of the above warning signs. Yes, she was moody at times, but what teenager isn’t. And yes, she had been cutting, but she had been seeing a psychiatrist and psychologist for months, and she never indicated she was suicidal.
The counselor recommended inpatient treatment, and Hollie freaked. She said she wasn’t going, and she refused to move. (Because she was suicidal, she had to be transported by ambulance.) Finally, the nurse told Hollie that she could either walk out or he could give her a shot, and she would be rolled out on a gurney. Hollie chose to walk out, but not before giving me a look - she was shooting daggers at me.

I got all the papers filled out to have her admitted, and then I left her there. And for the very first time, Hollie didn’t say she loved me when I left…and I went home and cried.

Visitation was twice a week, and she could make one phone call a night. Every time she called, she cried and begged me to come and get her. She would make promises of what she would and wouldn’t do. I would tell her I couldn’t come get her, and she would get mad and hang up on me. And I would cry. I knew I had to leave her there, but it was the hardest thing I believe I've ever had to do.

Visitations were worse, because I had to look at her while she was crying and begging me to take her home. I would tell her, “I can’t”, and she would storm off. But there were other moms there,who assured me that it would get easier. And I would go home and cry.

She stayed in treatment for sixteen days (that’s the longest a short-term facility can hold a child under 21, at least in MS). The calls and visits did get a little easier, and she stopped asking me to take her home. Once she was back home, for quite awhile she stayed angry with me and constantly asked me how I could have put her in “that place”. I would ask her what did she expect me to do. She was suicidal, and I couldn’t keep her at home. Now, she will admit that she needed to be there.

When I think back to that time, I wonder if I missed a warning sign. She never threatened to kill herself, and she never talked of dying. She didn’t give her stuff away. She wasn’t withdrawn. If she was depressed, I didn’t pick up on it. I’m still clueless as to what I missed. I'm just so thankful that Hollie had the strength to walk out of her room that night before she went too far.

Thinking that their teen could actually kill himself/herself is too painful for a parent to imagine. But with the frequency of suicide growing among teenagers, no parent can afford to ignore the possibility. If your teen threatens suicide, he/she is crying out for help. Don't ignore them. Always take these threats seriously. Stay involved in your teens’ everyday life, so you will be more likely to notice a change in his/her behavior.

For more information on how to help your child if he/she is suicidal, read the article below at

*National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)

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Unknown said...

Ugggh so sorry you had to go through that, I have been on the other end, its no fun for anyone involved.

Anonymous said...

I'm only 20 and I am not very good with kids at all... I was wondering if you knew if that would change when it was that time??

To settle down I mean?

oh and love your blog where did you get your layout?????

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madz said...

Good that Hollie did not do a permanent solution to a temporary problem. God Bless!

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Krystyn @ Really, Are You Serious? said...

Oh my goodness. I'm glad you were able to get her help, even if she was mad at you. I think it's so important for people to know that it can happen to anybody.

Days of Whine & Noses said...

unfortunatly my mom had no idea that I was suicidal when I was a teenager either.

now I watch my teenage daughter even closer knowing what I felt at her age and how no one knew. My teen is grieving the loss of her father. I worry about her every minute of every day even though she seems fine.

GottaLoveMom said...

Oh that's tough. Sometimes it's harder for us when the unexpected happens.
I worry about my teens because even though you try to be on top of them and be at home the whole time, bad things can still happen.
Thank you for the reminder.

Anonymous said...

My husband was 17 when he found his brother hanging in the garage. His brother never threatened to do it, didn't leave a note, nothing. It was a complete shock to everyone. At the time you don't think about this but it's amazing how someone taking their own life can have such a ripple effect forever on the family left behind. My husband will be 40 this year and that event still lingers, even effecting our kids.

Thanks for the honesty.

Alison (through SITS)

iklan said...

Alison, kind of sorry for your husband. That kind of experience will never off his memory.

Sandra Tyler said...

Can't imagine how you got through this.

Unknown said...

Love how brave and loving you were to Holly and her suicidal issue. I dread the thought of ever having to deal with that with my own children, but understand that it may be beyond my control. Part of parenting is rolling with the punches and being there for your kids when they demonstrate they need help. Praise God that you made the choice you did.


Karen Dawkins said...

Oh how my heart goes out to you. Thank you for sharing your story. When my son was 10, and building for years to that point, he pounded his head repeatedly against the wall and tore out chunks of hair and wish he was dead.

His issue, a learning disability that frustrated him. He felt stupid because he couldn't learn like other kids. He hated how hard he had to work. He hated that nothing made sense. Thankfully, therapy and time have helped him overcome his hurts. He actually doesn't even remember much of the stress he went through.

Parents, we need to know our kids and be ready no matter what. Hollie reached out to her mom. My son reached out to me. Listen, don't brush off their words. Respond. Love.

Anonymous said...

I'm heartbroken for my sister, brother-in-law, and nephews—my niece, their daughter and sister killed herself late Monday night. My sister found her. None of it makes any sense. A young teenage girl. I'm concerned that my sister (nor her family) will never re-cover.

Mrs. Diner said...

Such a sad situation. Suicide seems to be on the rise. Every life lost to it is a tragedy.

Unknown said...

My kids are not teenagers yet but this is still a good thing to keep in mind as your kids grow. I also think it is important for parents to know their kids and what's "normal" behavior for them. So when you see something out of the norm you can approach it.

Becky McNeer said...

i'm so sorry this happened again close to you. what a terrible thing for anyone to go through.

Quirky Homemaker said...

This is SO scary. I'm sorry you had to go through this. Prayers for you all. I fear that my son is going to be at risk for this. . . he takes so much to heart. You can just see it on his face. He's so sensitive. I really, really worry about this with him. He's only 8 now, but I just get that "feeling" about him. I'm not sure what to do at this point to make sure he doesn't get to that point. You definitely did the right thing and she'll thank you for it in the future!

Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness this subject just scares me, I am so sorry you had to go through this. That's why I am always talking with my kids, esp my 14 and 12 year old twins, making sure no one is messing with them, or how are they feeling. Its just sad that this is happening today.

Anonymous said...

Just recently my 13 yr old mentioned something about suicide & although we been talking to him I'm a nervous wreck, I've talked to his school counselor she acted uninterested, I been reaching out for help, counseling, I been keeping him close, making him come to my work after school & not leaving him alone....i just pray god keeps him safe & with me.

Unknown said...

I know what your going through. I am a teenage myself and have tryed suicide many times just never carried through it. My cousin just recently commited suicide by shooting himself. It was also a shock to my whole family. He was the happiest guy I knew he didn't have any warning signs he was a lovely man. It still haunts my family and its torn most of us apart. I'm almost 16 now and I can share a little knowledge on this topic for iv been struggling with this for a while. I went through a very dark period in my life that lasted about a year and a half. I got involved with a guy that was into this kind of stuff and I think that's where part of my problems started. Look at who your children are dating. I wish now my parents woul of made me break up with him. He verbally abused me for a year and a half and. I still went back to him. Also the types of music a child listens to can affect how a child acts for me it really didn't. I listened to a lot of heavy bands I still do but if you look at the lyrics ( depending on the band) army that bad. Also if your child expresses these signs to you ! Get them help! I wanted help and I didn't get it! I know it may be hard but they will thank you for it in the long run.

hotel said...

I appreciate you spending some time and effort to put this article together. I can not wait to read far more from you.

Unknown said...

Thank you for this post. Keep it up. Hope to read more post from you guys.


Anonymous said...

My daughter attempted suicide as well as she cut her self. She went into a range screaming that she wanted to die. I got down in my hand and knees begging her to tell me what was wrong. I had no idea. I left her alone hoping she would calm down. Everything got quiet she bad locked the door so we knocked the door down. There she was on floor lying in her blood. We grabbed her and took her to the hospital this is where we found out that she was a cutter. She had over 100 cuts on her body. I saw some before but she explained them away. Cutters are very good at hiding theses. I often told my husband things weren't right. He said she's just a teenager. My advice to any parent go with your gut. This is one of the worst things I've ever been through. I can't even imagine what and how it is like its like for a parent when their child sucesdfully carries out their suicide plan. God bless you all. This happened over a year ago and I still have issues with it.

Laine said...

My son tried to hang himself in april. I am single and alone, No family support. I am a Christian, but I am not handling this well. My son came home end of june.
There is a little brain injury. Doctors say he can fully recover. He is 16.00
He will never remember what he did because an older kid took him to get liquor and a zanex. Therefore he really has no remorse. Someone tell me where to start.
Theres no male rold model. I am exhausted trying to take care of him and my job.

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