Did you know that suicide is the third leading cause of death in 15-24-year-olds? These statistics mean that teen suicide is a problem of epidemic proportions, but it doesn’t have to be that way. When you hear about teen suicide among your family, friends or community, you likely wonder why it happened and what could have been done to prevent it.

The good news is, the more we talk about it and learn to recognize teen suicide warning signs, the better we can become at protecting our kids, friends, family, and neighbors. Here are 5 of the major signs you should look for and how they can be addressed.

Hurting Themselves

If a teen threatens to hurt themselves or actually hurts themselves with actions like cutting, this can be a warning sign that they are having thoughts of suicide. If you notice this in your teen, it’s important to consult a qualified therapist right away.

Worsening Anxiety or Depression

Anxiety and depression are not always a direct teen suicide warning, but if there is a dramatic worsening of depression, or the anxiety seems to be getting out of hand, this can be a suicide warning.

Withdrawal From People and Activities

Withdrawing from friends, family, or hobbies they love can be a warning sign that a teen is considering suicide. These are also signs of depression and anxiety, which should be treated by a professional. However, abnormal withdrawal where a teen isolates themselves physically or emotionally from things or people they usually enjoy should send up a red flag.

Giving Things Away

If your teen begins giving away things they cherish, there is a chance they are preparing to take their own life. This is a way for them to ensure their things end up with people they love, and that those they care about have something to remember them by.

Worsening School Performance

There can be a lot of reasons for this, so while you don’t need to jump to conclusions, you do need to get to the bottom of it. Listen to their reasons for falling behind and see what tutoring or other support they might need, but if you feel something is off or there is no practical reason for their worsening grades, this could be a teen suicide warning.

How You Can Help Today

If you notice any of these teen suicide warning signs, take preemptive action, now. Offer your unconditional love and support, and talk to your teen about what you’re seeing that concerns you. Encourage them to share their feelings, but avoid making judgments. Focus on listening and expressing your concern.

Talking about suicide by name doesn’t cause suicide or “give them ideas.” On the contrary, open conversation can help a teen feel less alone. Also, be sure to learn about the resources near you for residential and outpatient treatment for suicidal teens. These facilities can save lives and help educate you on the options that will help your teen.