(Edited from AP) Suicide is the third leading cause of death among 15- to 24-year-olds, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the phenomenon has lately been in the news. Cornell University is coping with a suicide cluster among students, two teenage girls killed themselves last month in Norwood, Pa., and four teens died by suicide last year in Palo Alto, Calif.

Scott Fritz, whose 15-year-old daughter took her life in 2003, says there are many things parents can do to prevent suicide.

(Edited from AP) Suicide is the third leading cause of death among 15- to 24-year-olds, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the phenomenon has lately been in the news. Cornell University is coping with a suicide cluster among students, two teenage girls killed themselves last month in Norwood, Pa., and four teens died by suicide last year in Palo Alto, Calif.

Scott Fritz, whose 15-year-old daughter took her life in 2003, says there are many things parents can do to prevent suicide.

“Educate yourself on the warning signs, risk factors, and very importantly, on protective factors,” said Fritz, president and co-founder of the Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide.

Like many parents, Fritz said “we had no idea teen suicide was even a problem” until his daughter’s death. Teen suicide rates in the U.S. have decreased since the 1970s, but a 2007 CDC survey still found 14 percent of high school students had “seriously considered suicide” in the previous 12 months.

Fritz’s organization offers an intense but extremely informative 17-minute video on its Web site called “Not My Kid” (http://www.sptsnj.org) that can help parents identify warning signs of suicidal behavior.

These include feelings of hopelessness, anger, excessive worry or anxiety or other signs of depression; self-destructive or risky behavior, including excessive drug or alcohol abuse; extreme changes in moods, attitudes or behavior, or a withdrawal from activities or socializing; and verbal or written threats, innuendos or statements like “Life isn’t worth living. In some cases there may be a family history of suicide.

Fritz added that death by gunshot is the leading method of youth suicide. “So if you are worried about your kid, make extra sure there is no access to guns,” he said.

Another factor often present in suicides is a “triggering event,” such as a disappointment that leads to despondency. The event might not seem like a big deal to adults, but remember that teenagers don’t always have the skills to cope with stress related to school pressures, social situations or family conflicts. Or they may be struggling with a serious problem such as the loss of a loved one.

The “Not My Kid” video stresses that there’s no evidence that discussing suicide with kids in a responsible way leads them to do it. In fact, says Fritz, talking to teenagers about suicide helps prevent it.

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