Risks of Antidepressant Medications for Suicidal Teenagers

An alarming truth: thousands of teenagers, both girls and boys,

are at risk for suicide. Though many do not recognize suicide as a

serious threat to a teenager’s well-being, teen suicide is now

considered a major cause of death among American teenagers.

According to the National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH),

about 8 of every 100,000 teenagers committed suicide in 2000.

Experts estimate that for every teen suicide death, there are at

least 10 other teen suicide attempts. They also found out that

almost 1 in 5 teens had thoughts about suicide. About 1 in 6 teens

made plans on committing suicide and more that 1 in 12 teens had

attempted suicide in the last year. As many as 8 out of 10 teens

who commit suicide try to ask for help in some way before

committing suicide, such as by seeing a doctor shortly before the

suicide attempt.

It is said that depression causes most teenage suicides in the

United States. It is depression that leads people to focus mostly

on failures and disappointments; emphasize the negative side of

their situations; and downplay their own capabilities or sense of


Depression or depressive disorders (unipolar depression) are

mental illnesses characterized by a profound and persistent

feeling of sadness or despair. Depressed persons are not

interested anymore in things that were once pleasurable.

Difficulty in sleeping, loss of appetite, significant weight loss,

and difficulty in making decisions are common signs of depression.

A teen with depression may feel like there’s no other way out of

problems, no other escape from emotional pain, or no other way to

communicate their desperate sadness. For that reason, many teens

who think of or actually attempt to commit suicide feel like it is

the only way to get their message across.

To address cases of suicide attempts and other depressive

disorders, the medical community has resorted to the prescription

of antidepressant medications.. With the help of these

medications, most people can achieve significant recovery from

depression…at least, that is what these drugs are supposed to


However, according to recent research, certain widely used

antidepressant medications may double the risk of suicidal

behavior among teenagers. The research also marked the first time

the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has acknowledged that these

drugs can trigger suicidal behavior among patients older than 18.

The finding comes two years after the FDA ordered a “black box”

warning on antidepressant medications following the discovery of a

heightened risk of suicidal behavior among teenagers taking the


Depression is so powerful especially to these young individuals

who find it difficult to cope with the many ins and outs of being

a teenager. For teens who have additional problems to deal with

such as living in a violent or abusive environment, a breakup, a

big fight with a parent, or an unintended pregnancy — life can

be overwhelmingly difficult.

Further, teenagers who feel suicidal may not even realize they are

depressed. They are unaware that it is depression and that their

situation has made them see or believe that “there’s no way out.”

Counselors and therapists can provide emotional support and can

help teens build their own coping skills for dealing with

problems. While there are many cases where teenagers and adults

actually need a prescription for antidepressant medications, these

situations must be thoroughly examined by a doctor or health

professional. Only qualified medical or health practitioners

should decide whether a a certain patient needs medication or not.

Constant communication, guidance and abundant love from the

immediate family is of major importance in dealing with a

teenager’s suicide thoughts. It can also help to join a support

network for people who are going through the same problems. When

depression lifts because a teenager gets the proper therapy or

treatment, the distorted thinking is cleared. In time, the

teenager can find pleasure, energy, and hope again.

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