Fourteen months ago, Becca started taking prescription opioids. She didn’t use them to help with physical pain; it was the mental pain she desperately wanted to quiet. But it didn’t work. Now, Becca’s emotional state is even worse. The opiates made her thinking even cloudier and her lows even lower.
Becca’s tired of fighting the battle of addiction; she finds herself gazing at a handful of pills – probably a lethal dose. She wonders, should she put an end to the fight right now?
Suicide is the second leading cause of death among teens in the United States. In 2014, over 5500 adolescents between the ages of 10 and 24 committed suicide. At least 90 percent of the young people who kill themselves have some type of mental health problem, such as drug abuse.
New Study Points to Prescriptions
A recent study looked at the link between drug use and suicidal tendencies. What they found is pretty scary.
Teens are more at risk for suicide when they abuse prescription drugs. In fact, they are three times more likely to commit suicide when using pills for nonmedical reasons. And the connection held true even when researchers took into account the large number of teens already experiencing symptoms of depression before the study began.
Prescription drug abuse and depression often create a deadly cycle for teens. Nearly 25 percent of teens in America report they have misused or abused a prescription drug. Many teens use these drugs to self-medicate their depression or anxiety, leaving the drugs to cause additional depression and distress…so they take more. For too many, this cycle spirals out of control and ends with a child taking his or her own life.
What To Do
Parents might miss warning signs that their teen is at risk of substance abuse and suicide. After all, teens are often notoriously moody and unpredictable, so you write off the odd behavior as “typical.” But it’s important to remain on alert for changes in your teen’s behavior – changes that stretch beyond normal teen angst. Most teens who attempt suicide give clear warning signs beforehand.
These signs tend to include:
- Losing interest in the things they care about
- Talking about suicide
- Sinking deeper into depression
- Talking about feelings of hopelessness, helplessness or worthlessness
- Being preoccupied with death
- Taking unnecessary risks
- Giving away their prized possessions
- Setting their affairs in order
- Visiting people they care about (to say goodbye)
- Exhibiting out-of-character behavior
If you detect these signs of distress in your teen, get help. Bring them to a physician or mental health professional right away. Your intervention could save your teen’s life.
Additional Reading: Mental Health Awareness: Teens and Dual Diagnosis
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