Teen Depression: Warning Signs & How to Help

Sheri Reed

memorial bouquet flowersAfter hearing the news that Marie Osmond's son, 18-year old Michael Blosil, committed suicide last Friday evening by jumping from the Los Angeles apartment building where he lived, every mother's heart in America probably broke. I know mine did.

Losing a child is unimaginable, and Michael's story brings to light the horrific worst case scenario when a teen loses the battle against depression.

Following here are some depression warning signs and tips for how to help if you think your teen is depressed or suicidal.

The Early Show's Dr. Jennifer Hartstein, a child and adolescent psychologist, lists these warning signs for teen depression:

  • Change in mood
  • Avoiding activities they used to like
  • Saying goodbye in ways that make you uncomfortable
  • Giving possessions away

The National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center list these other common symptoms of depression:

  • Sad or irritable mood
  • Difficulty sleeping or oversleeping
  • Slow or agitated movement
  • Loss of energy
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Frequent thoughts of death or suicide

If you are worried about your teenager, Dr. Hartstein suggests asking a lot of questions. Ask them if they are thinking about committing suicide. "Ask it in an open-ended way," she says. "...Don't be afraid to put that idea in their head because you're not going to. If they're having the thought, it's there already."

This is also the point where parents need to intervene and get their child professional help. "Really encourage (your) children to be active participants in their therapy because that's really the most important thing, figuring out how to not be hopeless anymore, but to move toward a life worth living."

If you feel you can't talk to your teenager about depression or that they might not open up to you, ask for help. Perhaps an aunt, uncle, grandparent, or other trusted adult can talk to your son or daughter.

Grief-stricken Walter Koening, the father of actor Andrew Koenig, whose body was found last week after he took his own life, offers this important advice: "For those families who have members who they fear are susceptible to this kind of behavior: don't ignore it. Don't rationalize it. Extend a hand."

Michael Blosil was one of Osmond's five adopted children with ex-husband Brian Blosil. My heart goes out to Marie Osmond and Brian Blosil and their families.

If you suspect that a teenager you know is suicidal, take immediate action. For 24-hour suicide prevention and support, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.

Do you have any wisdom or insight to share about teen depression?


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