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How To Deal With A Depressed Suicidal Teenager

How To Deal With A Depressed Suicidal Teenager

The World Health Organization (WHO) explains that depression is “characterized by persistent sadness and a lack of interest or pleasure in previously rewarding or enjoyable activities,” resulting in significant impairment in one’s daily life. Thoughts of suicide, suicidal ideation, suicidal thoughts, are all terms used interchangeably to describe thoughts, ideas, and/ or fantasies related to committing suicide. An article in the National Library of Medicine explains that “suicidal ideation (SI), often called suicidal thoughts or ideas, is a broad term used to describe a range of contemplations, wishes, and preoccupations with death and suicide.” It is not uncommon for a teenager struggling with depression to also have thoughts of suicide and vice versa. 

Warning Signs

It is imperative to be aware of common warning signs with which a teen suffering from depression and suicidal thoughts may present. Common examples of signs and symptoms that could be indicative of a teen struggling with depression could include, but are not limited to any combination of the following, provided by the American Psychiatric Association (APA):

  • Changes in appetite
  • Weight fluctuation
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyed pastimes
  • Feelings of hopelessness and/ or pessimism
  • Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Increased fatigue 
  • Feeling worthless and/ or guilty
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Persistent feelings of sadness
  • Moving and/ or talking more slowly than usual
  • Suicidal ideation

Common warning signs that could be indicative of a teen struggling with thoughts of suicide could include but are not limited to the following examples:

  • Giving possessions away without reason
  • Engaging in risky and or self-destructive behaviors
  • Developing personality changes
  • Irritation 
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Social isolation
  • Regularly talking about death
  • Anxiousness 
  • The shift in sleeping patterns
  • Change in diet
  • Feeling trapped or hopeless
  • Agitation 
  • Depression

The Mayo Clinic explains that there are tendencies among those at risk for suicide, including anger, irritability, loss of interest in activities, changes in academic performance, withdrawal, comments about death and dying, being worthless or feeling depressed. Young people may have suicidal thoughts that can range from fleeting thoughts to planning out the way in which one wants to end his or her life. It is imperative to be mindful of any behavioral changes that may indicate a need for additional support. 

What To Do

There are a variety of approaches to treating teenagers struggling with depression and suicidal ideation. At Pacific Teen Treatment, we offer a residential treatment program where we will create a nuanced treatment plan, incorporating the best possible therapeutic methods, specifically geared to each teen’s personal needs. There are many different types of therapeutic modalities that could be integrated into one’s treatment plan, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), expressive arts therapy, and interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT). Some young people may benefit from including medication into their treatment plan, in conjunction with various therapeutic methods. If medication is necessary, at Pacific Teen Treatment, we utilize the leading experts in adolescent psychiatry, while also collaborating with our resident’s parents both for permission and continued involvement in the treatment process. The best way to help a depressed, suicidal teenagers is to take them seriously and provide them with ample, professional support.

For Information and Support

Every family in need of mental health treatment must select a program that will best suit the needs of their family. When one member of a family struggles, it impacts everyone in the family unit. To maximize the benefits of treatment we work closely with the entire family to ensure that everyone is receiving the support they need through these difficult times.

Seeking help is never easy, but you are not alone! If you or someone you know needs mental health treatment, we strongly encourage you to reach out for help as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for many mental health difficulties to impact a person’s life, in the long term. Pursuing support at the beginning of one’s journey can put the individual in the best position to learn how to manage themselves in a healthy way so they can go on to live happy and fulfilling lives.


We are available to answer any questions you may have regarding mental health treatment and our residential program, anytime. Contact us today using the form to the right.

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