Suicide in High Schoolers: Warning Signs, How to Help, How to Cope & Resources Available

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high schoolers

Suicide is Preventable: Ask, Listen & Tell. Together, there is HOPE.


Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for ages 12-22 (Suicide, n.d.; WISQARS Leading Causes of Death Reports, n.d.)

“In 2017, there were 47 percent more suicides among people aged 15 to 19 than in the year 2000” (Frazee & Morales, 2019).

Suicide rates for males and females have been spiking since 2014 and 2009, respectively (Frazee & Morales, 2019)

Risk Factors

  • Mental illness/psychiatric diagnosis
  • Family history of suicide and/or exposure to suicide
  • Family history of mental illness
  • Physical/sexual abuse
  • Losses
  • Aggressive behavior/impulsivity
  • Lack of social support/social isolation
  • Poor coping skills
  • Access to ways of harming oneself, like guns, knives, etc.
  • Difficulties in dealing with sexual orientation
  • Physical illness
  • Family disruptions (divorce or problems with the law)
  • Traumatic event (Suicide in Teens and Children Symptoms & Causes: Boston Children’s Hospital, n.d.)

warning signs

Warning Signs

  • Preoccupation with death (e.g.,recurring themes of death or self-destruction in artwork or written assignments
  • Intense sadness and/or hopelessness
  • Not caring about activities that used to matter
  • Social withdrawal from family, friends, sports, social activities
  • Substance abuse
  • Sleep disturbance (either not sleeping or staying awake all night)
  • Giving away possessions
  • Risky behavior
  • Lack of energy
  • Inability to think clearly/concentration problems
  • Declining school performance/increase absences from school
  • Increased irritability
  • Changes in appetite (Suicide in Teens and Children Symptoms & Causes: Boston Children’s Hospital, n.d.)

how to cope

How to Cope

  • Talk with a friend, teacher, guardian, or counselor
  • Play a game
  • Take a nap
  • Take a walk
  • Eat a snack or a meal
  • Exercise
  • Help somebody
  • Read a book
  • Listen to music
  • Watch a movie or TV
  • Spend time with friends
  • Monitor social media, news, and TV (Violence Prevention, 2018)


How to Help

Common reasons for suicide are emotional pain, hopelessness, and wanting the pain to go away (Home, 2020). You can help by:

  • Asking: “I’m wondering if you have had thoughts of killing yourself, hurting yourself, dying, or falling asleep and not waking up?”
  • Talking with your child or friend and let them know you care
  • Being observant of behavior/mood changes
  • Spending time with your child or friend by playing a game, reading, listening to music, or creating art
  • Monitoring your child’s intake of news, social media, TV, newspapers, and other media or conversations that can increase stress by communicating about disasters or traumatic current events
  • Obtaining extra support from local mental health professionals and the school counselor for your child or friend (Violence Prevention, 2018)

Resources Available

As a reminder, you never have to suffer alone. There are resources available for you.

National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Georgia Crisis & Access Line: 1-800-715-4225

GMHCN Warm Line: 888-945-1414

CARES: 844-326-5400, Call or Text 8:30AM-11:00PM for Substance Use Crisis Text Line: 741-741

Georgia HOPE

  • Call: 706-279-0405 Ext. 149
  • Text: 706-847-4871
  • Email:
  • Visit:
  • Contact Us Online

American Foundation for Suicide Preventions:

Suicide Prevention Resource Center:




  • Preventing Suicide. (2019, September 5). Retrieved April 1, 2020, from

  • State Fact Sheets. (2019, October 11). Retrieved April 3, 2020, from

  • Suicide Prevention. (2019, July). Retrieved April 2, 2020, from

  • Suicide Statistics. (2019, April 16). Retrieved April 3, 2020, from suicide-statistics/

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