Warning signs for teenage suicide & after an attempt

Learn about: Warning signs for teenage suicide & after an attempt from Stephen Gray Wallace, MS Ed,...
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Warning signs for teenage suicide & after an attempt

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Stephen Wallace: Most parents can’t imagine nothing worse than the intentional loss of a young person. And yet the suicide rate in this country is growing dramatically and more than any other time since we have been measuring it. It is the 3rd leading cause of death for older teenagers. The 4th leading cause of death for younger teenagers. So it’s a problem that has reached epidemic proportions and really needs every parent’s attention. While the whys of suicide is not always known, what we do know is that many young people lack the longevity, the life experience to know that how they’re feeling at the moment, which maybe resulting in acute psychological distress is not how they would always feel. They don’t have the life experience to know there’s a light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. That they will feel better. They tend to think I’ll always feel this way, I’ll always feel this bad. And they may act impulsively. So there’s not always a fact pattern that leads up to a suicide which is why it takes so many people by surprise. It can be the result of a situation, a break up, a loss of some sort. Kids act impulsively, sometimes alcohol is involved. We know that there’s a high correlation between alcohol and other drug use in suicidal ideation and attempts. And so it may really sneak up on people. Not having seen signs along the way. To the extent that they do see signs. Things like depression, feelings of hopelessness, change in sleep, change in eating patterns, loss of friends, perhaps giving away prized possessions, no longer enjoying activities they used to enjoy. Those are all red flags. Certainly if young people are talking about self-harm, talking about suicide, talking about thinking of hurting themselves, we need to ask for professional help. We need to talk to the school psychologist or another mental health professional and get them some counseling. Also I advise all parents to form social contracts with kids. To have this conversation with every single child in this country. To say something like, you know, at certain times in life almost everybody experiences a lot of distress, a lot of psychological pain. And then they think that they will never feel better. If you ever feel that way, you need to promise me that you’ll call me. That you’ll talk to me about it before you take any action. Those are critical conversations you have before young people take their own lives.

Learn about: Warning signs for teenage suicide & after an attempt from Stephen Gray Wallace, MS Ed,...

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Stephen Gray Wallace, MS Ed

School Psychologist & Author

Stephen Gray Wallace, director of the Center for Adolescent Research and Education (CARE), has broad experience as a school psychologist and adolescent and family counselor. He is also the senior advisor for policy, research, and education at SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions), an organization he served as national chairman and chief executive officer for more than fifteen years. 

Stephen serves the Cape Cod Sea Camps as a resident camp director and the director of counseling and counselor training and the American Camp Association as a feature magazine writer, media spokesperson and faculty member at its e-Institute for Professional Development, a role he also plays for the American Academy of Family Physicians.

The White House, the American Camp Association, SADD, Camping Magazine, and the Susquehanna University Alumni Association have formally honored Stephen for being a tireless and passionate advocate for youth.

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