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There are numerous triggers for suicide attempts among young people. Here are 8 of the most prominent.

Event triggers:
1. Death of a loved one, particularly by suicide. Pay particular attention to teens if this happens. The youth may want to “follow” their loved one.
2. Serious argument with close friend or adult. Remorse after an argument with someone is normal. But remorse coupled with hopelessness about reestablishing the relationship can trigger suicidal ideation.
3. Recently bullied. Has the youth recently encountered ridicule, derision, neglect, or violence? These are all triggers for self-harm.
4. First criminal involvement/arrest. Youth who have previously not been involved with law enforcement are at much higher risk for suicide.
5. Recent abuse or neglect by adult. Teens who were recently abused or neglected, especially by a parent figure, are sometimes triggered to suicidal ideation.
6. Parents recently separated or divorced. Parent separations and break ups are sometimes triggers for self-harm.
7. An important person (e.g, hero) attempted/committed suicide. Has the teen’s music idol hurt themselves? If so, this can serve as a trigger.
8. Religious “crisis”/conflict with important adults. Adolescence is often a time of questioning religions and raising existential issues. If the teen is unable to engage important adults with these issues this can raise a crisis for the teen, sometimes leading to self-harm.

With respect to triggers, it takes only one of these to begin thoughts and/or actions of self harm.

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Dr. Chris Downs has devoted much of his professional career to improving services and outcomes for older, at-risk youth. Chris is President of The Downs Group LLC, based in Seattle and has the pleasure of working with many talented professionals in child welfare and allied areas including his company Associates.