Kids, teens, and young adults, 10 to 35 years old, comprise near half of the Philippines total suicide cases, according to a report from the National Poison Management and Control Center of the Philippine General Hospital. To be more precise, 16% of the cases are aged 10 to 19 years old.
Suicide is the leading cause of death worldwide for girls age 15 to 19.
Consider that for each one of the young lives lost, many more may be attempting the same, said Dr. Gia B. Sison, the national adviser of the Youth for Mental Health Coalition in an article for CNN Philippines. Because stigma surrounds this health problem, suicides and suicide attempts are likely to be underreported, and those with thoughts of ending their own lives are more unlikely to seek the help they need, according to the World Health Organization.
With teens who have suicidal thoughts, early intervention is crucial. According to statistics, 86.1% of suicide attempts in adolescents happen within the first year of their suicidal thoughts, as shown in the 2017 Children's Mental Health Report by the Child Mind Institute in the U.S.
Suicide is linked to different mental health disorders like anxiety and even ADHD, which is classified as a psychiatric disorder. But depression may be the most common cause of suicide in teens.
“Suicidal teens usually suffer from major depression which makes them have a dark and gloomy mindset,” Dr. Randy Dellosa, a prominent Filipino clinical psychologist and psychiatrist, said in an interview with the Philippine Star. “The suicide of a child is an unimaginable anguish for the parents. It is utterly tragic and senseless to lose a young and beautiful child by suicide.”
As the Child Mind Institute points out, the teen brain is vulnerable to stress, drug abuse, and self-harm. Be wary of aggression and impulsive behavior. “Aggression and impulsivity are traits highly related to suicidal behavior in adolescents. The younger a person is, the more impulsive aggressiveness contributes to suicide attempts.”
Keep in mind that kids with depression may manifest a different set of symptoms compared to adults with the condition. When unaware, it can make it easy to shove aside problematic behavior in teens, like sudden changes in mood, as “normal.”
“In older children and teenagers, depression often manifests aschronic anger, irritability and often isolating oneself, which parents of teenagers tend to dismiss as part of the teenager’s life,” Dr. Cornelio Banaag, widely known as the founding father of child and adolescent psychiatry in the Philippines, told Philippine Daily Inquirer. “It’s not always just sadness.”
As a child grows up, a parent’s roles and duties evolve as well. Your child may not need your help to pour a glass of milk or tie her shoelaces anymore, but she still needs your guidance especially during the vulnerable stage of the teenage years. “Whatever else happens, you must never lose the line of connection with your children, no matter how busy you are,” said Dr. Banaag.
Do not ignore the signs of a problem. Find help immediately if you think your teen may attempt self-harm or suicide. Call 804-HOPE(4673), 0917-558-HOPE(4673) or 2919.