The Mormon Therapist on Teen Suicide

Recently a 16-year-old young man from our ward hung himself. It was a horrendous shock for everyone, as this was a handsome, well-liked boy. The young man’s family began immediately to say that it was an accidental death, but it was ruled a suicide by the coroner. Why does someone do something like this? Does the method of suicide give any clues? This apparently happened in a closet, and it was not a long closet. He REALLY wanted to end his life and it must have been a horrendous death. I appreciate any insight you may have on this issue in general.

I am so very sorry to hear about this tremendous loss. Suicide is always an immense tragedy and leaves everyone in its midst reeling in grief, confusion, frustration, anger, guilt and loss.

Adolescents tend to be impulsive and elusive in nature – a part of their normal developmental stage. Unfortunately these traits can make it difficult to recognize suicidal “warning signs” or behaviors. Often parents and other adults/teachers can be completely blind-sighted when a teen suicide occurs. Unless a specific letter or message has been left, it can be difficult to understand the “why.” Teens often come across problems they don’t know how to solve or able to confide to another (i.e. an unwanted pregnancy, homosexual tendencies, bad grades, a breakup from a significant other, being bullied, sexual assault, abusive home environment, addiction, etc. etc.). Suicide can also bet the worst case scenario of one suffering from an ongoing mental health disorder such as clinical depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and/or substance addiction.

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