Teens who attempt suicide: Profile of survivors
Bartimole, Carmella R.
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on adolescent suicide have reached epidemic proportions. Suicide ranks as the third leading cause of death for teens and young adults between the ages of 15 to 24 years. The purpose of this qualitative study was to better understand the thought processes of teens who attempted suicide. Eleven teens between the ages of 14 and 17 who attempted suicide and were subsequently admitted to a youth psychiatric unit were interviewed. Open-ended questions were asked to explore the thought process of the teens at the time of the attempt and to identify risk factors which may have contributed to the attempt. The questions were also meant to identify strengths, such as successes, coping skills, and social support resources available to the teens. The importance of family was evident in the responses given by the teens. What mattered to them was knowing they were loved and valued. Some specific events or emotions were identified that triggered the suicide attempt. Just as notably, there was a significant point which shifted the thoughts from death to life, from hopelessness to hope. Risk and protective factors were identified as opposing forces, creating a powerful representation of the dynamics involved in suicidal behavior. It was found that there was a shift which seemed to occur with teens who attempted suicide. A shift in one direction pushed them to lose hope and attempt suicide, a shift in the other direction helped them have hope and choose life. It is suggested that professionals can facilitate the positive shift by showing teens genuine concern, listening to them, identifying their strengths, and reminding them of their skills and talents.