Fighting Teen Depression

By: Amy Gleason
By: Amy Gleason

Brianne Camilleri is one of the lucky ones. Even though she seems like a typical happy-go-lucky teen, she has a very dark past.

"I wasn't myself. I stayed in my room a lot. I was acting out. I didn't care what my parents thought," said Brianne, now a sophomore at JMU. "I got caught shoplifting. My parents didn't expect that of me. The ride home was just awful. I thought that was the end."

That night, Brianne had her first attempt at suicide. She convinced everyone it was a one time thing, but she couldn't fight off the dark cloud hanging over her head. She eventually was committed to a hospital and she got the help she needed.

"I was given ways to deal with my feelings when they came on," said Brianne. "I also learned how to do things to avoid the feelings."

She now advises parents to be blunt with their kids and to ask questions. She says even if that means coming right out and saying "do you feel suicidal?"

"Parents need to be direct and ask them and even if they feel in their heart that their kid is not being honest, then I thing they should seek help," said Brianne.

For kids who might be fighting the same battle as Brianne, she suggests being honest and brave enough to ask for help, even if that means calling a suicide hotline. Here in Virginia, you can call 1-800-SUICIDE.

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Teen Suicide

  • Each year in the U.S., thousands of teenagers commit suicide.

  • Suicide is the third leading cause of death for 15-24-year-olds, and the sixth leading cause of death for 5-14-year-olds.

  • Teenagers experience strong feelings of stress, confusion, self-doubt, pressure to succeed, financial uncertainty, and other fears while growing up.

  • For some teenagers, divorce, the formation of a new family with step-parents and step-siblings, or moving to a new community can be very unsettling and can intensify self-doubts.

  • Depression and suicidal feelings are treatable mental disorders.

  • The child or adolescent needs to have his or her illness recognized and diagnosed, and appropriate treatment plans developed. When parents are in doubt whether their child has a serious problem, a psychiatric examination can be very helpful.

Warning Signs

  • Change in eating and sleeping habits.
  • Withdrawal from friends, family and regular activities.
  • Violent actions, rebellious behavior, or running away.
  • Drug and alcohol abuse.
  • Unusual neglect of personal appearance.
  • Marked personality change.
  • Persistent boredom, difficulty concentrating, or decline in the quality of school work.
  • Frequent complaints about physical symptoms, often related to emotions such as stomachaches, headaches, fatigue, etc.
  • Loss of interest in pleasurable activities.
  • Not tolerating praise or rewards.
  • Complain of being a bad person or feeling rotten.
  • Give verbal statements like, “I won’t be a problem for you much longer,” “Nothing matters,” “It’s no use,” and “I won’t see you again.”
  • Put his or her affairs in order, give away favorite possessions, clean his or her room, throw away important belongings.
  • Become suddenly cheerful after a period of depression.
  • Have signs of physical psychosis (hallucinations or bizarre thoughts).

Source: www.aacap.org (American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Web site) contributed to this report.


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