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Teen Suicide - Delving Into Prevention Helplines



The World Health Organisation states in a recent report that one person dies every 40 seconds by committing suicide. Evidently enough, suicide is the third leading cause of death among the youth, claiming at least 4,600 young lives annually. But the single unsettling thought that creeps into our minds on connecting the reports and studies done by various sources is that suicide is something that seems way too normalized and common among teenagers in today's world. Teenagers are eminently prone to death due to suicide, and this is confirmed by the recent surveys encircling teen suicide and its aspects, stating that every single day, approximately 5,400 teenagers in grades 7-12 attempt to take their own lives.

Below is a graph showing trends in teen suicide over the years 1991-2017:

Fig 2:

The percentage of high school students who admitted having gravely contemplated attempting suicide in the last year declined from 29 percent in 1991 to 14 percent in 2009. However, prevalence has increased since, reaching 17 percent in 2017. The proportion of students who reported having attempted suicide remained relatively constant in the 1990s and early 2000s (from 7 to 9 percent) but declined from 8 percent in 2005 to 6 percent in 2009. This trend reversed in 2011, with the proportion increasing to 8 percent that year and 9 percent in 2015, before dropping to 7 percent in 2017.

Isn't it concerning that suicide kills more youth than does Cancer, Heart Disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, influenza, pneumonia, and chronic lung disease combined?

Even more concerning are the statistics are shown by another study, that implies to 16% of high school students report having serious suicidal thoughts or urges, 13% of high school students report creating a plan and 8% of high school students report attempting suicide in the last 12 months.

The entire unpredictability of suicide is not merely terrifying but also exceedingly tragic.

However, medical experts state that keeping in mind the complicity and hard to predict nature of suicides, it is not impossible to prevent them.


Fig 3:

Helpline services such as the National Suicide Prevention Helpline, which is commonly known as Lifeline, were introduced intending for people to confide in them while facing a crisis. Now, there are innumerable emerging helplines all around the globe solely committing to provide comfort and emotional support to those in need, but regardless, certain aspects of most of these helplines remain the same everywhere.

A helpline provides free, confidential, and non-judgemental emotional support 24*7 for anyone of any age, even non-English speakers, and people who are deaf and hard of speaking.

Anyone can call the helpline whether they are suicidal or not, to receive emotional support, at any time, even on holidays.

Many of these hotlines, or crisis lines are expanding their mode of operation to text or chat services nowadays, offering a sense of solace to people who do not feel at ease by being on a direct call.


Even though some crisis lines do adopt a more structured problem-solving approach all the while asking questions and exploring the plausible options that might lead the callers to suicide, the core intention of all crisis lines still continues to be offering unceasing emotional assistance to the callers.

Crisis lines all over the world operate in their own distinct ways in certain terms but the primary traits still remain the same.

A cardinal aspect of all crisis lines regardless of their mode of operation is to ensure that the service offered to the callers:

• is provided free of charge.

• is staffed by trained volunteers, paid mental health professionals, or paid


• is anonymous – i.e. a name/personal identification is not necessary to receive the

service (although some crisis lines identify callers by a name or pseudonym to

ensure continuity when the caller or crisis line worker calls back);

• is confidential except in emergency situations where there are safety concerns.

• in most cases, considers each call as a single session with no fixed time limit;

• in some cases includes a follow-up call to check on safety and well-being.

• is non-discriminatory and no religious, political, or ideological requirements are

needed to receive help and no religious, political, or ideological beliefs are

communicated to callers.

• provides routine safety checks and identification of suicidal ideation and the level of suicide risk on all calls, with crisis intervention techniques applied as appropriate.

• provides advice for referral to other resources, when appropriate.

• in some cases offers a translation service and access for persons with hearing

difficulties or other disabilities.

These mannerisms are just valid reasons for callers to seek the support that they might need at the lowest point in their lives. Crisis lines are fully non-judgemental, trustable services that one can confide in, no matter if they're certainly on the verge of attempting suicide or merely having such thoughts. A helpline is simply for anyone who thinks they're in severe emotional distress.


While helplines are promoted as saviors for people facing crises, it isn't wrong to say that these saviors have failed people numerous times in varying ways in the past. People have reported calling helplines and being kept on hold for as long as half an hour or so, only to get transferred to a voicemail service. Some people also experienced negligence in calling up such helplines and getting sent broken links to support groups and receiving insensitive "advice" from the other end. It is also true that crisis lines are always overburdened and have their own unique anomalies such as unprofessional or undertrained employees, however, they are also unceasingly implementing new services and strategies to put an end to such limitations or at least reduce them noticeably, like expanding the lines to text or chat services as well.

There are, though, a few ways in which people can ensure their own safety steps beforehand in case a helpline fails them when they are in need. If in case a helpline doesn't respond in an expected way, remember that that doesn't mean it has to be the end for you. There are still a lot more ways that can prove to be even a bit helpful when in times of crisis. Although everyone having any of such thoughts deserves and has rightful ways of seeking help, it might also be somewhat solacing for them to know from the very beginning that sometimes when dealing with suicidal thoughts, people are only urging to put an end to their agony and suffering, and not necessarily end their lives. If at any time, a person feels threatened by their notions of suicide, they must try to turn themselves in an emergency room or call National Helplines as soon as possible, or even confide in a trustable friend or family member. Anyone with a history of suicidal thoughts or suicide attempts mustn't keep any weapons in near reach and keep someone to be held accountable to, asking them to take charge of their weapons and hiding them, and preferably a very reliable person to call in times of emergencies.

One can only imagine how it must feel to be in the shoes of someone struggling with thoughts of ending their own life, and not acquiring any help on seeking help from the advertised reliable sources. However, certain small measures mentioned above may help in those moments of unimaginable distress.

Below is a list of verified resources or helplines that one can reach out to in times of crisis.



08023656667 or 08023655557 (from 7 am to 9 pm)



1800 223 3330






+91 8376804102






8686139139 ( 9 AM - 6 PM)



As the idea propounded in this article continues to be that suicide, is not entirely impossible to prevent. In many cases, suicidal people do show some concerning signs before attempting or committing suicide. It is just extremely salient for us to look around and notice any warning signs, especially for parents. As humans, it is natural for everyone to hint at a few of their emotions, even if it is done abstractly; Ecco comes into the picture of the warning signs commonly noticeable in teenagers that could help their parents especially to identify them and not overlook them as mood swings.

Some of these signs are listed below:

  • increased anxiety

  • unnecessary risk-taking

  • lack of response

  • feeling trapped

  • looking for ways to access lethal means

  • increased anger or rage

  • negligence to school work or irresponsive to situations in general

  • sudden change in sleeping and eating habits

  • feeling hopeless/expressing hopelessness

  • talking/posting obsessively about wanting to die

  • self-injury

  • making plans for suicide.

As parents, concerned about their child being suicidal or not, regardless of all superficial circumstances, it is extremely important to make their children feel loved. Understanding that kids don't just wake up one day and decide to die, but situations that drive them to is certainly something to consider. Teenagers are just young people trying to look for their own safe place while not getting lost in this intimidating world. Judging them, constantly nagging at them, throwing around harsh and cold statements are things that hurt young ones in ways we cannot even begin to fathom. It is an obligatory responsibility of parents to ensure that their children know that they are loved and cared for. Instead of bringing them into this world and being disappointed if they don't turn out as expected or are not perfect, mothers and fathers should try and look at them as just small kids trying their best to not feel worthless or like a burden. Communicating with your kids is the key, listening to them and not only accepting all their flaws but also making them feel at home, is just as important as educating them.

As parents, remember that you are supposed to be their safe place, their home, and not where they feel the need to run or hide from.


We as teenagers are a tad bit too amicable with the crooked ponderings that run inside our minds nonstop while we put on our brave faces and show up in front of the world. So why don't we let it sink in that it is not just us feeling agonized alone, but a whole similar age group of people around the world enduring almost similar emotions as us that go unnoticed beneath layers and layers of masks? Just as we would give it our all to pull back a human from the edge of death, why not fathom that you too are equally humane, and saving your own life is just as worthy as saving anyone else's.

You matter in so many ways that you can't even begin to wonder, and if at any time you feel like your reasons to breathe dwindle, know that there is always a place you can go to for help.

Apart from confiding in your close ones, there are helplines available for you that genuinely understand what you might be going through and are there to help you through the emotional process in the right way.

Written By - Ananya Panchami Dutta (Interned at Just A Teen)


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