teen and parent talk

From Heart to Heart

Let’s Navigate the Teenage Years Together

Most of us are becoming more aware of an alarming trend on the rise – teenage suicide in America. While this is a sensitive topic for most people, it is important that we become more able to discuss this reality with our teens. Because current statistics paint a bleak picture, I want you and your teens to remember that there’s a whole world of support waiting for you. Together, we can make these precious years safer and happier.

Taylor Bourque, PLPC, PLMFT, shares expertise on navigating the teen years

Unveiling The Numbers

Let’s briefly touch upon the facts. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that suicide is a leading cause of death among our young ones, aged 10 to 34. There has been a significant increase in teenage suicide rates in the past two decades, with a disproportionate number among LGBTQ+ youths. This is often intertwined with mental health challenges like depression and anxiety, which might arise from numerous factors including academic pressures, bullying, or family issues.

Common Counseling Interventions

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT helps individuals identify and modify thought patterns and behaviors that contribute to their depression or anxiety. By teaching adolescents coping strategies for managing stress and negative emotions, it can significantly reduce suicidal thoughts and improve overall mental well-being.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT): Originally developed to treat borderline personality disorder, DBT has proven effective for suicidal teenagers. This intervention combines cognitive-based therapy and mindfulness strategies. It helps adolescents develop emotional regulation, distress tolerance, and interpersonal effectiveness skills which are crucial for handling the pressures of teenage life.

Supporting Our Teens

Open and Safe Communication: In order to encourage your teenagers to open up, they must feel that they can talk about their feelings without judgment. Lend them your ears, hearts, and shoulders. Be the safe harbor where they can anchor their worries. Be attentive and listen to them. Sometimes, a listening ear can be more valuable than any advice.

Promoting a Balanced Life: Encourage your teenagers to have a balanced life which includes not just academics but also hobbies, socializing, and physical activities. A well-rounded life can be a great stress reliever and contribute positively to mental health.

Be Their Cheerleader: Develop a habit of celebrating your teenager’s achievements, no matter how small. A word of praise can be like sunshine on a cloudy day. Keep the spotlight on their strengths and watch them thrive.

Stay Informed and Involved: Learn about what’s happening in your teen’s world. Stay updated on social media trends, music, or whatever interests them. Sharing in their world helps them feel understood and connected.

Get Them Help: If your teenager is struggling and the previous four areas of support are not enough, get them the help they need. Sometimes teens feel more comfortable talking to someone who is not their family member and would feel better supported by a mental health professional. Remember, your child going to therapy is nothing to be ashamed of!

The statistics surrounding American teenager suicide are not just numbers; they represent lives that hold promise and potential. Mental health counseling interventions like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behavior Therapy are effective in helping teenagers navigate through their struggles. As parents and guardians, supporting open communication and promoting a balanced lifestyle are critical. Furthermore, the engagement of schools and communities in mental health awareness and support can provide an all-encompassing safety net. Together, we can turn the tide and protect the well-being of our youth.

Helpful information

National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline

Phone: dial 988

Text: text “TALK” to 741-741

Web: 988lifeline.org