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How To Help Someone With Depression And Suicidal Thoughts

How To Help Someone With Depression And Suicidal Thoughts

Depression is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as a mental health disorder characterized by persistently depressed mood or loss of interest in activities, causing significant impairment in daily life. Suicidal ideation (SI) is often called suicidal thoughts or ideas, is defined as 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. 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. 


How To Help

The best way to help some struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts is to be aware of the risk factors, recognize warning signs, and provide them with ample, professional support as soon as possible. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIH) provides helpful suggestions to assist someone who may be at risk of experiencing suicide ideation:

  • Ask them if they are thinking about suicide. Studies show that asking does not increase the risk.
  • Keep them safe by staying around and removing any means of committing suicide, such as knives, where possible.
  • Listen to them and be there for them.
  • Encourage them to contact someone they might turn to for support, such as a friend, family member, or spiritual mentor.

There are also easily accessible suicide prevention resources (e.g., the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, the Suicide Prevention Resource Center, the Suicide Prevention Resource Guide, etc.). Early intervention, family support, and professional assistance can be invaluable to one’s safety and recovery.

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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