Next to car accidents, suicide is the leading cause of death among children and teens in Delaware. Studies reveal that children as young as 10 entertain suicidal thoughts. And by high school, close to 15 percent of kids have attempted or thought of ending their own lives. Ennui and depression are two of the most significant factors in teen suicide. Seeing the signs, addressing the situation, and preventing negative emotions can ensure your child feels safe and secure in their own home.
Keeping It Close to Home
Doctors and pills might be too drastic solutions to address depression. Medication can have serious effects on mental clarity and personality. A diagnosis of mental illness — even something as common as depression —comes with a stigma that will only increase your child’s isolation and even raise their risk of suicide. Sometimes, the care and understanding of family and friends are enough to pull someone out of depression, especially if they make use of the biochemical nature of the condition.
1. Social Interaction
A simple touch can make your child feel secure, loved, accepted, and part of a whole. Humans are social creatures, and physical contact plays a big part in the evolution of the species. A hug, pat on the back, or a held hand prompts your body to produce oxytocin. Several studies report the efficacy of oxytocin in addressing anxiety and depression. Rent a few tables and chairs and throw a small party.
It doesn’t have to directly involve your child. Just give him a chance to interact with others. Throw a simple barbecue to meet the neighbors, invite your nieces and nephews for a big game or movie night. Any form of interaction and physical contact will give your child a sense of security and self-worth. Offer hugs in the morning when they go to school or a touch on the arm after they return. If they prefer to stay in his room and play video games, buy another PC so that they can play with a friend in his room.
Depression in Alaska is one of the highest in the nation — particularly during winter. The lack of sunlight can limit the body’s production of serotonin, causing lethargy, depression, and insomnia. A burst of sunlight can brighten up everyone’s day. Take your kid running around the block, or make them walk the dog on weekends. Exposure to sunlight can balance the mood and reset the biological clock to its proper phase. Most anti-depressants work by increasing serotonin levels in the brain, and regular exposure to sunlight does the same thing.
People need direction. Encourage your child to find a hobby or activity, and do your utmost to support their endeavors. Depression hits children when they find no sense and meaning in their life. Having a clear goal or something to look forward can serve as a clear path or direction. Suggest hobbies that can help them develop physically, mentally, or socially. Going to the gym, learning a language, or participating in a sport are great options, but so is playing tabletop RPGs, learning to code, or exploring classic cinema.
Medical and Psychological Help
If you feel your child is at risk and their condition is unmanageable, it is time to get professional help. Doctors and support groups are readily available, particularly in the bigger cities of Wilmington, Dover, and Newark.
1. Talking to a Psychologist
Make sure you are talking to an actual psychiatrist and not a mere psychologist, self-proclaimed counselor, or therapist. Psychiatrists are doctors who specialize in mental issues and disorders. A psychologist can prescribe medication if your child warrants them. However, the first few sessions can be limited to understanding and diagnosing your child’s condition. A psychiatrist may also suggest counseling through a psychologist or social worker. The most severe cases may require confinement and observation, but these cases usually involve trauma or severe mental illness.
Taken properly, the right anti-depressants should have mild to little impact on one’s personality. Some anti-depressants can increase feelings of detachment and anxiety, so carefully observe your child and notify their psychiatrist. It might take a few tries to get the most effective brand with the least side effects, and you’ll need an understanding psychiatrist to make it work.
Feelings of isolation, sadness, anxiety, and hopelessness often trigger teen suicide. Create an accepting and loving environment to fortify your kid’s spirit. Constantly communicate and offer support. The things you do at home count and could save you a trip to the psychologist.