Parents Often Don't Know When Teens Have Suicidal Thoughts

parent with teen son

If you ask almost any doctor, they will tell you how very important it is to be talking with our teens and having real conversations on a daily basis. It's easier said than done, though. With the daily use of technology, loads of extracurricular activities and homework, it can be difficult to get them to open up even if we are trying fiercely. However, a new US study will probably shake you to your core as a parent and urge you to find a way to talk to your teens more often.

New research has been reported in Pediatrics, sharing the cold hard fact that three out of every four parents are unaware when their teens have recurrent thoughts about suicide. Umm, yikes.  However, a big part of the problem may be that adolescents often deny feeling this way to begin with.

The research looked at  5,137 adolescents, ages 11 to 17, along with one parent or stepparent and interviewed them. For this specific study, researchers recruited families that were from large pediatric health care network, not from mental health clinics. The adolescents were 15 years old on average, and most of the adults who participated were their mothers.

Most teens who took part in the study never report suicidal thoughts. But, when they did open up to having suicidal thoughts, half of their parents were unaware that they ever had thoughts of killing themselves. Furthermore, 76 percent of parents didn't know when teens regularly thought about death.

Taking a closer look at this and doing as much research as possible is crucial right now because Pediatrics also shared that suicide is the second leading cause of death among U.S. youth ages 10 to 24. Taking things one step further, those rates are rising instead of decreasing. Even scarier, more than two-thirds of teens experiencing suicidal thoughts don't ever receive mental health services.

The study also showed that parents were able to detect suicidal though easier in girls than their boy children and that fathers were more likely to oversee these signs than mothers.

The whole point of the study designed to prove whether or how parents' recognition of teens' suicidal thoughts, or teens' awareness of their own feelings, might directly impact the chance of self-harm or death by suicide. Either way, these findings are truly a light bulb moment for parents of teens nationwide to pay more attention to what's happening mentally with their children.

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