In severe cases of depression, suicide or attempted suicide often ensues. This is particularly true in the case of children and teens suffering from depressive disorders and older patients suffering from either bipolar disorder or some form of schizophrenic disorder.
In the last quarter century, the suicide rate amongst adolescents aged 15 to 19 years has increased between three and four fold. Research suggests that the more than 85% percent of children and adolescents who attempt to commit suicide suffer from some form of depressive or anxiety disorder. Depressive symptoms are often aggravated by the experimentation with alcohol and drugs, the majority of which have a further depressant effect on the systems of already depressed individuals.
The parents of depressed children and adolescents are often totally taken aback when presented with the realization that their child has made an attempt on his or her own life. Aside from being in denial, this is often due to the fact that the profile of a suicidal teenager is in most cases not what one would expect. Those most at risk are not the typically withdrawn, social outcasts but rather those angry, boundary pushing crowd leaders who are revered by their peers and dreaded by their teachers.
In the case of adolescent boys in particular, depression often manifests itself in the form of disruptive behaviour, insomnia, a lack of appetite and experimentation with drugs and alcohol. Whilst depressed adolescent boys are less likely to attempt suicide than their female counterparts, they are also more likely to succeed when they try to take their own lives. Girls will typically try to take an overdose of pills and often will not take a high enough dose to actually end their own lives. Boys on the other hand are more likely to resort to a more violent form of suicide such as shooting or hanging themselves.
Any mention whatsoever of death, dying or suicide by a child or adolescent should be treated as incredibly serious. Any significant change in mood or behaviour patterns may be an indication that something is seriously wrong. Parents should take as many preventative measures as possible so as to ensure that the life of their child does not end in tragedy. These include among others, keeping communication channels open, seeking professional help and treatment, assuring a child that they are not alone and restricting access to dangerous weapons and potentially harmful substances.