Posted in mental illness

Teen Suicide, Depression and Mental Illness

This Thursday, a second classmate of my fourteen year old daughter, committed suicide.  A third failed in their attempt and a fourth has been making regular threats.  What is happening in our community is happening everywhere as I recall the suicide of nine teenages in the Anoka Hennepin school district- a suburban community just outside of Minneapolis.  Suicide is epidemic among our teens and while I am not a therapist or a psychiatrist, I can Google as well as anyone.  According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), “scientific evidence has shown that almost all people who take their own lives have a diagnosable mental or substance abuse disorder, and the majority have more than one disorder.   In other words, the feelings that often lead to suicide are highly treatable.”  (  ) 

While bullying, breaking up with a boyfriend or girlfriend, experiencing stress, rejection or loss may be the catalyst, it is most often a diagnosable and treatable mental disorder (depression, anxiety disorders, bi-polar, manic depression, etc.) that is the underlying cause of a teen choosing suicide as the coping mechanism for dealing with life’s challenges.  According to, TWENTY percent of teens will experience depression sometime before adulthood.  That is a STAGGERING statistic.  That is two out of every ten teens.  I believe the statistic is much greater than that.  And this statistic is only for depression, this does not take into consideration schizophrenia, bi-polar disease, anxiety disorders, etc.  It is for this reason that education, diagnosis, treatement and support are so important.  In order to help our teens, we need to be EDUCATED on the symptoms of potential mental illness and to seek proper support and treatment when we suspect there might be an issue.

So, what are we to look for as signs that our teens might be suffering from an undiagnosed mental disorder that could lead to suicide?  This is what the NAMI website says to look for:

Some common symptoms of these disorders include:

  • Extreme personality changes
  • Loss of interest in activities that used to be enjoyable
  • Significant loss or gain in appetite
  • Difficulty falling asleep or wanting to sleep all day
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Withdrawal from family and friends
  • Neglect of personal appearance or hygiene
  • Sadness, irritability, or indifference
  • Having trouble concentrating
  • Extreme anxiety or panic
  • Drug or alcohol use or abuse
  • Aggressive, destructive, or defiant behavior
  • Poor school performance
  • Hallucinations or unusual beliefs

If we want to be a source of support for our teens, it is our job to become educated and to communicate.  We cannot hide behind our fear of confrontation or our denial of the situation.  If you suspect your child or one of their friends might be exhibiting signs of depression, anxiety or is making threats of suicide….GET HELP immediately.  If it is a crisis situation and suicide seems imminent, call 911.  It was through this kind of intervention that at least one Oshkosh teen was saved. If it is one of your children’s friends, CALL THEIR PARENTS and let them know your concerns.   For education, counseling referrals and support, contact your local NAMI chapter, a local counseling center or your pastor.    In Oshkosh, you can contact NAMI at 651-1148 or go to their website:  Let us be a source of support for our teens so that we can help to prevent these unnecessary deaths!

Lauri Lumby

Merrill Middle School Parent

Authentic Freedom Ministries

Oshkosh, WI


I am a trained, professional Spiritual Director, Author and Hands-on Healer. I offer services, programs and classes that empower you to hear the voice of the Divine that speaks from within you. It is the voice of the Divine that leads us to our highest truth, to the discovery and cultivation of our gifts and to a life of Authentic Freedom where we know contentment, compassion and joy. Your truth will set you free!

2 thoughts on “Teen Suicide, Depression and Mental Illness

  1. Thank you for bringing this out into the open, encouraging discussion, support and advocacy. So many broken hearts, and so much loss-

  2. “Tragic” seems like such a small world to describe something with such an Enormous Personal Impact.

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