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Teen Suicide 

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Warning Signs

WHAT TO DO if a friend shows warning signs of suicide: Ask how he or she is feeling and why. Don't offer advice like "You shouldn't feel that way" or "You don't know how lucky you are." Just let the person express his or her feelings.

And don't be afraid to ask if your friend has made specific plans for suicide. Finding this out is important.

Then get help. Suggest that your friend call a suicide prevention or crisis intervention center, or talk with an adult that he or she respects. If your friend refuses, you need to get advice on how to help. Don't worry about being "disloyal."

You could be saving a life.

Most important, learn to recognize the warning signs of suicide:

Threatening to commit suicide.

Talking about wanting to die or being better off dead; statements about hopelessness or helplessness.

Having a history of making suicide attempts.

Showing sudden changes in behavior: becoming withdrawn, moody, or irritable.

Being sad or depressed, crying.

Showing changes in eating or sleeping habits; having headaches, stomach upsets, or other physical problems.

Engaging in excessive drinking or drug use--especially important to watch for in teens who don't typically drink or use drugs. Coming to school under the influence is often a cry for help from a distressed teenager.

Making "final arrangements," giving away possessions.

Source: Health Information Services.

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From the February 19-25, 1998 issue of the Sonoma County Independent.

© Metro Publishing Inc.

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