Teenagers like being dramatic.
All parents of teenagers know this.
Most also know some teenagers like saying things for shock value. For whatever reason, those teens get a thrill from freaking their parents out. This makes it difficult to know when to pay attention to what they say, when to ignore it, and when to take immediate action. The thing about talk of suicide – even hints of suicide – is that the consequences of ignoring it can be so serious they’re almost unthinkable.
But it has to be said: ignoring suicidal ideation can be the difference between life and death.
Even if you’re one hundred percent certain your teen is just being dramatic, you simply can’t ignore it.
Here are six phrases you absolutely must take seriously:
- I won’t be a problem for long.
- You’ll be better off without me.
- I’m a burden to everyone.
- I want it all to go away.
- I feel so (sad/rotten/broken/awful) inside.
- I wish I was dead.
If your teen says any of these to you, or you overhear them on the phone, or read them in texts or instant messages, don’t brush then off as typical moodiness: they might be warning signs of something far more serious. Talk to your teen immediately. Dig for the truth. Find out what’s going on with them. And if discover something serious is going on, then get them professional help as soon as possible.
Angus is a writer from Atlanta, GA who writes about behavioral health, adolescent development, education, and mindfulness practices like yoga, tai chi, and meditation.