Suicide among adolescents, how to recognize the signs of discomfort

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Philippe Gloaguen
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The phenomenon of suicide among adolescents concerns about 500 children in our country every year: it is one of the main causes of death among young people aged between 15 and 24 and which has unfortunately seen a slight increase in cases from 2022 to today (according to estimates recorded by Istat).

Difficult signals to decipher

"It is very difficult to distinguish the behaviors of a" normal "adolescence from the signs of a more important form of discomfort", he said. Laura Bislenghi, psychologist and psychotherapist who collaborates in the "2000 Program" of the Niguarda Hospital in our city, the first center in the Paeseno area for identification and early intervention in psychosis. “At this age, social withdrawal, anxiety-depressive symptoms and" risky "behaviors are aspects that can be assessed as common. But when these attitudes persist and the boy or girl no longer goes out with friends holing up in their room or on the internet, when they interrupt the activities that have always fascinated them and show signs of non-transient discomfort, then it is different. Ignoring this discomfort could mean making room for a more dangerous disorder ».

Read also: The silence of adolescents: 6 things to understand and help them

In the minds of adolescents: a continuous search for novelty

Is "teenagers immature" commonplace or is it a deeper truth? "This age is in some ways the most dangerous: between the ages of 15 and 25, children indulge more in deliberate" impulsive "behaviors, actions that carry their risks, such as, indeed, the danger of death (think to go hard on a moped to feel the intoxication) and forms of injury. The explanation is also scientific: they are individuals in the midst of a brain modification process which on the one hand leads to positive evolutionary changes, such as the ability to develop more abstract reasoning and creativity. The brain, in fact, is more sensitive to dopamine, the neurotransmitter of pleasure, and explains how the adolescent is at continuous search for novelty, strong emotions, developing new dreams and ideas: all healthy driving forces. At the same time, this desire for the new has to do with the search for risk and exciting experiences, such as experimenting with substances ».

The fear of exclusion

Interpersonal relationships have their weight. "The group of peers at this age is very important. First of all from a biological point of view. because it pushes them to autonomy and independence. It is no coincidence that the fear of being excluded or being targeted by one's own group can thus become an unbearable pain ".

A blatant gesture to attract attention

«Teenagers are very dichotomous: either they are very happy or desperate - comments the psychologist -. At this stage the social rejection or failure can cause immense suffering: an impulsive gesture can become definitive, to attract blatantly attract attention. Other times, however, the choice is clear and desperate, typical of those who do not see other ways out. To these common factors can be added individual frailties: low self-esteem or less social skills, a severe moral judgment towards oneself or the fear of the judgment of others (for example the fear of having disappointed the parents for a rejection) ».

Read also: Coping with failure: 10 tips for parents to help their children

How the family can intervene in prevention

"Adults should always keep in mind that each era has its specific characteristics and that the problems of today's children are different from once - underlines Bislenghi -. There are different drugs in use today, the ways of relating. The function of the adult world is to provide a constructive barrier to children, rather than a protective one. The clash with adolescent children it is physiological: it is a contrast that they seek precisely to define the contours of their own personality and a certain permissiveness or neglect of the signs of discomfort of the boys does not help them to fortify themselves ".

No to too much protection

"Not even hyperprotection is good, that is, that way of wanting to protect children at all costs, cutting off their natural drive towards autonomy or trying to spare them frustrations and failures. When we start a therapeutic journey with a teenager we always involve families working on the difficulties of the boys. After all, our adolescents accept suggestions and seek the trust of adults around them if they perceive that they can be trustworthy and that "the grown-ups" are on their side ».

Read also: How to manage the separation of children and allow them to grow up peacefully

  • addictions
  • Internet
  • suicide adolescence
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