<p>Our community is still in shock from the tragic suicide last week of a local hs senior - a beautiful girl who had already been accepted at Bennington. Her friends are devastated - they are all blaming themselves because they feel that they somehow should have been able to stop her. This is the worst part of suicide, that it leaves behind not only grief but guilt. My heart is breaking for the parents, and for the mom especially, with whom I used to make costumes for the school plays back in elementary school days. </p>
<p>The obituary was in our local paper today, along with an excellent article written by our local school district's psychologist about teen suicide. The article talks about risk factors, warning signs, and what to do if you are concerned that a teen you know is contemplating suicide. Unfortunately the paper didn't post the article to the web, but I thought I'd excerpt a little of it. If all of us, especially our children, are more informed, maybe we can stop this from happening to another family.</p>
Direct and indirect suicide statements or notes.
Prior attempts or threats.
Depression, pessimistic view of the future.
Masked depression: acts of agression, substance abuse, gunplay - indicating a lack of concern for their safety.
Making final arrangements such as a "will" or giving away prized possessions.
Preocupation with death.
Changes in behavior, appearance, thoughts, feelings - sleeplessness or sleeping all the time, sudden weight gain or loss, disinterest in hygiene, withdrawing from friends, skipping school, discontinuing involvement in once important activities.
A lifting of mood, where the person unexplainably seems happier after a long period of being down, can signal that a decision has been made to commit suicide.
Planning or hints of plans - the greater the planning, the more likely that an attempt will occur.</p>
<p>What to do if you suspect that someone is contemplating suicide:
Ask the person directly if s/he is considering suicide.
Focus on his/her well-being and don't be accusatory.
Reassure them that help is available and they won't feel like this forever.
Provide constant supervision.
Remove means for self-harm.
Get help, ASAP.</p>
<p>And for other teens in particular:
Know the warning signs.
Listen to the friend's feelings, but get adult help.
Find a trusted adult to tell.
Never make a deal to keep a friend's suicide thougths a secret - you have to tell to save your friend's life!</p>