Risk Factors of Suicidal Ideation in Teens

It’s a scary and devastating moment when a parent learns that their teenager is considering suicide. The emotions range from anger and frustration to sadness, guilt, and everything in between.

This guide is here to help parents learn the most important factors they need to know when it comes to suicidal ideation in teens. The details will cover what it is, the risk factors for suicidal ideation, signs to watch for, and how to help.

What is Suicidal Ideation?

Suicidal ideation happens when a person decides they can no longer handle the mental weight of their circumstances and choose to take their own life. They resort to suicide with a faulty mindset that it is the only remaining choice to rid themselves of the stress, trauma, or depression they are feeling.

Suicidal ideation is difficult to manage and overcome alone, sometimes occurring in people as young as ten years old.

Risk Factors for Suicidal Ideation in Teens

Although there is no singular cause that leads to suicidal ideation and depression in teens, it is possible to recognize a handful of reasons why someone may consider it at this stage in their life. The more parents can understand the risk factors for suicidal ideation in teenagers, the better prepared they’ll be to help their child overcome these thoughts.

Social Isolation

Young children and teenagers thrive under social experiences where they feel loved and accepted. But when they feel isolated and separated from their peers, it can have adverse effects, which could lead to major mental health conditions. If a teenager is considering suicide, they may not feel that they are part of a group or have friends who care about them.

Chronic Disease

Even adults struggle when it comes to chronic pain or constantly dealing with an illness, let alone a teenager facing the same circumstances. When adolescent children suffer from health issues, such as heart disease, cancer, or other diseases, they may feel overcome by the pain and look for ways to make it go away.

Pre-existing Mental Health Conditions

Along with physical diseases, mental health can often play a role in a teenager’s decision to consider suicide. Regardless of the condition, an adolescent may determine that suicidal ideation is the only way to deal with their mental health concerns.

Seeing Suicide Elsewhere

Whether it was a friend or family member, the harmful effects of a teen knowing someone they love committed suicide could lead them to have similar thoughts. Suicidal ideation in teens is often caused by seeing a loved one take their own life.

Drug & Alcohol Use

Teens who struggle with substance abuse frequently make poor and irrational decisions, whether they’re under the influence or not. No matter what substance they turn to, it could lead them to suicidal thoughts if they’re also struggling with other mental health conditions.


Being bullied or discriminated against because of race, gender, or sexual preference is another consideration parents must consider for suicidal ideation in teens. It’s important that children feel accepted for who they are and have a safe place where they can be themselves.

Previous Suicide Attempts

Suicidal ideation in teens tends to be a repeat behavior. If an adolescent child has thought about it before or has attempted to take their own life, they are generally more likely to try again if they don’t get the support and treatment they need.

Signs & Symptoms of Suicidal Ideation in Teens

Although some suicidal ideation signs can be similar to basic teenage rebellion, parents should always be mindful and aware of how significantly their child is showing these emotions or actions. The most common symptoms of suicidal ideation in teens are:

  • Severe mood swings
  • Major personality changes
  • Risky or self-destructive behavior
  • Changing sleep patterns
  • Saying they feel hopeless or trapped
  • Isolating themselves
  • Heavy use of drugs or alcohol
  • Speaking about or writing about suicide

Treatment for Teens Struggling with Suicidal Ideation

If you, your child, or another teenager is struggling with suicidal ideation, it is crucial to get professional assistance right away. A great resource to visit is the JasonFoundation website, or you can call their hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). They even offer text support by texting “Jason” to 741741.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is another resource that is open 24/7 at (800) 273-8255.

If you are seeking suicidal ideation treatment for teens, the mental health professionals at OC Specialty Health & Hospitals can help. To learn more, call 949-900-8426 or 877-467-2223.

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