Navigating the last few years between being a child and being an adult is not always easy. The Center for Disease Control reports that for every successful teen suicide, there are 100 to 200 failed attempts. Problems faced by teens include, pregnancy, depression and drugs. Understanding the issues teens face in the world will help you provide support to your own.
Depression places teens at an increased risk of suicide. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports suicide as the third leading cause of death among people 10 to 24 years old. In addition, 15 percent of students in 9-12 grade have thought about killing themselves. The process of navigating the last years before adulthood can be stressful under the best circumstances. Add in family issues, broken hearts or substance abuse and the risk intensifies. Symptoms of teen depression range from frustration at small things and feelings of sadness to withdrawal from family or friends and feelings of being worthless.
Sexual activities place teens at risk for pregnancy, sexually transmitted disease and emotional turmoil. According to the CDC, 46 percent of U.S. high school students have had sexual intercourse, with 14 percent already having over four sexual partners. Out of those who have had relations, only 66 percent used condoms. With more than 5,000 teens contracting HIV/AIDS in 2006, sexual relations continues as one of the largest adolescent issues in America. Pregnancy among 15- to 19-year-old girls is another risk of sexual relations. Out of more than 750,000 pregnancies in the US in 2006, 12 percent of them involved 15- to 19-year-old teen mothers.
Substance abuse has far-reaching effects during the adolescent years. Being under the influence of drugs or alcohol reduces the ability to make sound decisions. This increases the risk of teen pregnancies, fatal car accidents and criminal behavior. Even without such consequences, substance abuse can lead to poor academic performance, self-esteem issues and insufficient problem-solving skills. Forty-seven percent of US high school seniors reported in 2007 that they have used illegal drugs during their lives. Symptoms of substance abuse include depression, changes in friends, nose-diving academics and suddenly erratic behaviors.
Though problems with depression, sex and substance abuse often appear during the adolescent years, the good news is that millions of teenagers ultimately make good decisions and enter adulthood unscathed. For those who struggle, parents can help by providing support, open communication and professional help when needed. Mental health therapy and anti-depressant medication are effective methods used to treat depression. Set up an appointment for your teen to see a professional if you suspect depression. Open, honest dialogue about the responsibilities and consequences of adolescent sexual behavior can clear the way for questions and answers. Substance abuse treatments vary from residential to outpatient. If you suspect your teen is abusing drugs or alcohol, seeking help from professionals can help him start the road to recovery.
If you suspect your teen is considering suicide, seek immediate professional help. Call your local mental health facility, a suicide prevention hotline of your nearest hospital emergency room.