Teenage Suicides: Early Detection of Depression as a Crucial Prevention Measure


In a pressing concern for mental health, teenage suicides are on the rise, and the imperative for prevention lies in the early identification of depression among youngsters. Dr. Rahul Chandhok, a mental health expert, highlights the need for awareness and proactive measures to curb the alarming rates of youth suicides in India.

According to a study published in Science Direct, India holds one of the highest youth suicide rates globally, with rates in the 15-29 age group soaring to 25.5 per 100,000, nearly twice the global average of 13.1.

The vulnerability of children and teenagers to suicide attempts is underscored by factors such as feelings of sadness, confusion, anger, attention problems, and hyperactivity among younger children, while stress, self-doubt, academic pressures, financial uncertainty, disappointment, and loss dominate reasons for teenage suicides.

Detecting Early Signs

Given the impulsive nature of suicide attempts, early detection of signs of depression becomes crucial for prevention. Recognizable symptoms include sadness, anxiety, hopelessness, pessimism, anger, sleep disturbances, and insomnia. Depression may also manifest physically, with loss of appetite, weight loss, fatigue, and chronic pain, accompanied by thoughts of death or self-harm.

Root Causes of Teenage Suicides

Depression, often a precursor to suicidal tendencies, can be rooted in chemical imbalances in parts of the brain managing mood, thoughts, sleep, appetite, and behavior. Hormonal changes, family history of depression, other mood disorders, or early childhood trauma can also contribute.

Additionally, medical conditions, brain structure, chronic illnesses, insomnia, chronic pain, and substance use elevate the risk of depression among young individuals.

Apart from early signs of depression, factors such as health conditions, environmental triggers, and family history can increase suicide risk. Issues like bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, conduct and anxiety disorders, traumatic brain injury, family history of harassment, broken families, rejection, divorce, financial crises, and exposure to firearms, drugs, or others’ suicides heighten the risk.

Recognizing warning signs is crucial in preventing suicide attempts. Observable changes in behavior, expressions of self-harm, hopelessness, feeling burdensome, and unbearable pain should be flagged.

Other warning signs include increased use of alcohol or drugs, online searches for self-harm methods, social withdrawal, extreme sleep patterns, farewells, giving away possessions, and aggression. Mood swings, depression, anxiety, loss of interest, irritability, shame, humiliation, and anger are additional indicators.

Immediate intervention following the detection of depression and warning signs is essential. A comprehensive treatment plan may involve medication, psychotherapy, family therapy, and education. Institutions like Sukoon Health, equipped with mental health experts, can aid in the identification of warning signs and implement a robust treatment plan.

Lifestyle changes, stress management, improved sleep, dietary habits, exercise, building a support network, and engaging in hobbies are integral components of such plans.

India is grappling with a crisis as its youth succumbs to suicide at an alarming rate. Dr. Chandhok urges all stakeholders, including coaching institutions, colleges, health institutions, parents, and students, to unite in the detection and prevention of self-harm tendencies. Accountability, particularly in addressing mental health issues and seeking timely treatment, must be prioritized.

In conclusion, the battle against teenage suicides requires a concerted effort from all sectors of society. As awareness spreads and collaborative initiatives gain momentum, there is hope for a reduction in youth suicides, providing a lifeline to those grappling with the shadows of depression.

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