ADHD is a developmental disorder characterised by delays in a person’s ability to control, or regulate, his or her own attention, behaviour, and emotions. ADHD is a condition in which a person’s ability to regulate his or her attention, conduct, and emotions is impaired. A child’s ability to function at home, at school, and with friends might be negatively impacted by the symptoms of ADHD.
Teachers and parents frequently place a high priority on addressing the behavioural and academic difficulties that children and teenagers with ADHD face, while paying little attention to the emotional and social consequences of the disorder. Unfortunately, children with ADHD are at an elevated risk of developing depression and having suicidal thoughts or behaviours throughout their lives, which suggests that emotional and social elements should be a primary focus of care for these children throughout their lives.
What Factors Contribute to the Risk of Suicide in Individuals with ADHD?
The association between attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and suicide has received more attention from researchers in recent years, as part of an effort to get a better understanding of the relationship. While the processes by which ADHD increases the risk of suicide are not fully understood, the following information provides an overview of what is known about how ADHD may increase the risk of suicide in adolescents.
- Teens with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are at an increased risk of developing depression and anxiety symptoms during their adolescent years, which may increase the likelihood of having suicide thoughts, engaging in suicidal action, or harming themselves. When compared to males with ADHD, girls with ADHD appear to be more susceptible to developing depression, anxiety, and self-harming behaviours than boys with ADHD.
- Because of their high levels of impulsivity, adolescents with ADHD are at a greater risk of suicide (a prominent symptom of ADHD). During times of difficulty, impulsivity can cause ADHD youth to shift quickly from suicidal thoughts to actual suicidal behaviour, which is dangerous. Youth with ADHD are more prone to engage in risky or harmful behaviour, and they spend less time contemplating the long-term consequences of attempting to commit suicide.
- In addition to issues paying attention to social cues and following directions, adolescents with ADHD may experience difficulties in both the classroom and the community. When left untreated, many of the primary symptoms of ADHD can lead to increased stress and disagreements with people in one’s relationships. The likelihood of depression and suicidal ideation in adolescents may grow as a result of heightened emotions of failure, rejection, loneliness, and hopelessness towards the future.
- At the end of the day, there is evidence indicating adolescents with untreated ADHD are more likely to engage in substance abuse. Due to the fact that it reduces the inhibition and fear that youth may feel about committing suicide, substance abuse might dramatically raise their likelihood of acting on suicide ideas.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of a Problem?
Not every child diagnosed with ADHD struggles with depression or is at high risk for suicide. However, the increased risk of suicidal behaviors among those with ADHD warrants increased awareness, rapid recognition of key warning signs for suicide risk and depression, and knowledge about how and where to get help. The following behaviors require immediate response:
- Talking about or posting on social media about death or suicide is against the law.
- The sensation of being a burden on others, as well as an increased sense of hopelessness and sadness
- Talking about a death plan, studying death plans on the internet, and/or shopping for goods to use to kill oneself are all examples of suicide planning (e.g., medications, firearms, sharp objects, rope)
- Giving away beloved possessions.
- Visiting, contacting, or messaging someone to wish them a good – bye
What Can Parents Do to Make Their Children Feel More Safe and Supportive?
- Help your child identify and describe their feelings, and check in with them on a frequent basis to see how they are doing. Inform them that all of their emotions are valid and that they have the ability to choose how they will express themselves. If you notice any changes in your mood, speak with your primary care physician or a mental health professional.
- Make certain that all items that could be considered dangerous (e.g., firearms, medications/poisons, sharp objects) are properly secured and out of reach of children at all times. Keeping medication in its right container, examining the home surroundings on a regular basis for poisons and devices that can cause asphyxia or hanging, and being more alert when a crisis occurs are all important aspects of being safe.
- When a teenager with ADHD exhibits signs of suicidal ideation, take the warning signs seriously, put in place a safety plan that is clearly understandable to the child, and consider being more vigilant of other children during the crisis.
- Maintaining your own well-being and building a support system are important for parents. Growing up with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) while also navigating the world of suicidal ideation can be difficult. Experiencing it alone can be exhausting, and it is best done with a group of people.
- When a crisis occurs, call on local and national crisis resources. If you need to call on crisis resources as a parent, it is never a sign of weakness or constraint.
For more information on Behavioral Health Services visit: Suicide Watch and Wellness Foundation