According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Chicago leads the nation in teen suicide attempts, with 15.8% of Chicagoland teens reporting that they’d attempted suicide one or more times in the past year.  It is up to us—parents, school staff and community members—to help identify the warning signs before it is too late.

Here are some signs that the teens in your life might be at risk for depression or suicide:

  • Frequent sadness, tearfulness, crying
  • Hopelessness
  • Difficulty with relationships
  • Increased irritability, anger, or hostility
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Marked personality change
  • Change in eating and/or sleeping habits
  • Frequent absences from school and/or poor school performance

The following signs of suicide demand IMMEDIATE ATTENTION: 

  • Talking or writing about suicide or death
  • Giving direct or indirect verbal cues that life is meaningfulness (e.g., “I wish I were dead;” “What’s the point of living?”)
  • Neglecting appearance and hygiene
  • Isolating from friends and family
  • Obtaining a weapon or other means of hurting self
  • Giving away prized possessions
  • Exhibiting a sudden and unexplained improvement in mood after being depressed or withdrawn
  • Dropping out of school or social, athletic or other activities

If you observe any of these signs, do not leave the teen alone.  Immediately call 911 or seek professional assistance.

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