Dealing with a Teen Drug-Related Suicide Attempt

Recent research shows that almost 10 percent of all drug-related ER visits by teens in the United States are suicide attempts. Learn more about how to deal with the aftermath of such a shocking event.

Drug addiction among teens is on the rise, and the issues related to it can be staggering. Along with putting teens at risk of drug overdoses and other severe physical health issues, drug addiction can also have a severe impact on a teen’s mental health. This is especially true because there is a direct correlation between drug use in teens and other, existing mental health conditions such as depression or bi-polar disorder. This is why a rehab program will provide comprehensive care for teens dealing with drug and alcohol problems and not just deal with their addiction.

In some cases, a teen with a drug or alcohol addiction can be in such mental pain and anguish that it seems impossible to escape. The fact that their addiction widens the gap between their support network of friends and family only makes things worse. This is reflected in some recent data from the Drug Abuse Warning Network, which monitors emergency department visits in the United States. In 2008, 8.8 percent of all drug-related ER visits in the United States made by teenagers were suicide attempts.

In more than 95 percent of these cases, pharmaceuticals (such as sleeping pills or an overdose or painkillers) were the drug used by teens in their suicide attempts. This also reflects the growing trend in teens to abuse prescription pills, believing that they are not as “addictive” as “hard” drugs. The fact that drug treatment facilities throughout the country are seeing an increase in treatment of teens with prescription drug problems reinforces that this is just a myth.

After a teen is treated for the physical impact of their suicide attempt, the most likely next step will be sending them to an addiction treatment clinic for detoxification and the first steps of treatment. It’s also an opportunity for parents to evaluate recent changes in their son or daughter’s life. Have they been increasingly distant, struggling at school or abandoned their old friends? These are all warning signs that parents need to be aware of and a sign that parents need to more closely monitor the types of drugs that their child has access to.

Many teens will be embarrassed and guilty about their suicide attempt once they reach a drug rehabilitation center. It’s important for them to understand that this is an opportunity to confront the reasons why they began using drugs or alcohol in the first place and to deal with the underlying mental health problems that led to their suicide attempt. While it’s a horrible and painful situation and one that no parent wants to experience, many teens fully recover and are able to turn their lives around after a drug-related suicide attempt.