Help with Parenting – Recognizing Depression in Your Troubled Teenager

Recognizing a Troubled Teenager

troubled teenagerI say that because Jamie Hubley did not die of “natural causes”.  He died after taking his own life. The 10th grade blogger documented his unbearable struggles with depression and bullying resulting largely  from being the only openly gay teen in his high school.  Those close to Jamie knew of the daily challenges he faced. “You fought a hard battle, doing things most kids wouldn’t ever have the guts to do. You were brave, and strong and I admire you so much for everything you’ve done. You went through stuff that no kid should ever have to face in their lifetime, but somehow through all the hardships you still shone at school … You left a big footprint in everyone’s heart, and you will always be remembered,” wrote one student.  . 

Jamie Hubley – A Troubled Teenager

Even at the young age of 15, Jamie made a concerted effort to assuage the troubled teenagersadnessess of those around him. He could not, however, completely hide his disdain for those who were unable or unwilling to return the favor. After reading just a handful of Jamie’s entries on Tumblr, the cries for help were unmistakable.  How such obvious grief and turmoil was missed is beyond comprehension.  This young man’s death really struck a chord with us here at Single Mom Weekly.  Single motherhood comes with so many responsibilities that it is often easy to overlook the signs and symptoms of our loved ones’ personal struggles. A troubled teenager in our lives will often find it difficult to communicate how they are feeling and when they truly need our help. 

According to the NIH, for every one suicide death, there are an estimated 11 suicide attempts.  It is important to know the signs and symptoms of anyone who might be considering ending their own life.  (NIH Publication No. 06-4594)

Troubled Teenager Risk Factors for Suicide

  • One or more prior suicide attempts
  • Family history of mental disorder or substance abuse
  • Family history of suicide
  • Family violence
  • Physical or sexual abuse
  • Chronic physical illness or pain
  • Keeping firearms in the home

The many responsibilities of single parenthood can often overwhelm the most efficient multi-tasker.  The time and energy needed to successfully support a depressed child can often devastate the delicate balance of a single parent family.  In order to prevent neglect of the other aspects of your family and household, here are some tips to keep in mind to help maintain a holistic focus on your troubled teenager.

Maintain an honest and open family relationship – While your instincts may be to shelter other siblings and family members from the pain and anxieties of your depressed family member, remember that children can sense when something is wrong.  Being open and honest about what is going on can not only help any hidden thoughts of guilt, but can empower your children to help their sibling by showing support in their own way.  In addition, encouraging everyone to share their thoughts and feelings can also help uncover any similar thoughts in other children.

troubled teenagerConsider Needs of Healthy Children– When there is a major fire, our impulse is the focus all of our efforts on putting it out.  However, there are often embers smoldering in other areas that are kept at bay by proper balancing.  The depression of one family member can often ignite the stress and anxiety in others so remember to  keep a close eye on the siblings and troubled teenager to maintain as much balance within the household as possible.

Seek Out Single Parent Support Systems – Even in a two parent family, parents can become overwhelmed maintaining a household during a crisis situation.  This pressure is increased exponentially in a single parent household.  Remember to seek out and maintain single parents support systems to help with stressful situations.  Sometimes, simply talking with an understanding friend or family member can reduce stress and anxiety. Read on to get help with improving communication skills to better related to your troubled teenager,

Resist Finger Pointing– Maintaining a positive outlook in an otherwise scary and tumultuous situation can often be very difficult.  Resist blaming yourself or others since doing so will only cause additional stress to an already pressurized situation.  The primary focus should be on restoring normalcy and moving toward a positive, healthy future for your troubled teenager and your entire family.

Remember How to Schedule Self-care– while taking care of loved ones is the priority for the single mom, you can’t forget to take care of yourself even in the face of adversity.  The first order of business is making sure you maintain your good physical and mental health so that you provide the needed support for your troubled teenager and the rest of your family.

Warning Signs of a Troubled Teenager thinking about Suicide

  • Talking or joking about committing suicide.
  • Engaging in reckless behavior or having a lot of accidents resulting in injury.
  • Writing stories and poems about death, dying, or suicide.
  • Speaking positively about death or romanticizing dying (“If I died, people might love me more”).
  • Saying things like, “I’d be better off dead,” “I wish I could disappear forever,” or “There’s no way out.”
  • Giving away prized possessions.
  • Saying goodbye to friends and family as if for good.
  • Physical harm to self, i.e. cutting
  • Seeking out weapons, pills, or other ways to kill themselves.
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The death of Jamie Hubley could have been prevented.  In the words of Gay Rights Activist, Jeremy Dias, “gay youth often feel different from their peers, which can increase feelings of loneliness.

He said despite the name of the “It Gets Better” initiative, “things don’t just magically get better. Things are made better. And Jamie said it so clearly in his messages, that he can’t wait for things to just get better, that we as a community have to decide to make things better.”Read more:

“Jamie is free of his pain now and there is a new angel,” Allan Hubley said, “but we have paid too high a price.” Let’s do our part to set better examples for our youth of tolerance and inclusion. If we all make an effort, we as a community can make things better for troubled teenagers and all kids. Join us in leaving messages of support in Jamie’s honor on his Facebook Memorial Page.

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