The challenge for family and friends of teens is to be able to tell the difference between normal teen moodiness and actual despair. Luckily, many experts agree that there are recognizable warning signs. Ninety percent of suicidal teens are depressed, and depression tends to cause certain types of behavioral changes—a cluster of changes in behavior and mood, in sleep and eating patterns, and energy level. Other warning signs include dramatic changes in behavior or appearance, in weight, or in performance in school. Any talk about wanting to die or commit suicide should be seen as a real risk factor. Another strong signal is continuing alcohol or drug use, because one of the first things troubled teens try to do is to medicate themselves by drinking or taking drugs instead of seeking psychological help.
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