I recently met with a friend whose daughter committed suicide. Her daughter was a recovering alcoholic, and an argument with her significant other pushed her back towards drinking, and in the end, suicide. Sadly, our culture is seeing more and more suicide in the teen and young adult population. There seems to be a strange phenomenon occurring where suicide is almost contagious. In conjunction with this rise in suicide, we are seeing the occurrence of depression in teens and young adults.

One in five adults have clinical depression, and less than thirty percent seek therapy. Taking into account the hormonal issues that teens and young adults are dealing with, minus experienced coping skills as well as the adolescent and young adult pattern of exaggerating small things – for example a bad grade, a fight, etc. – and you have a perfect formula for depression and suicide. Moreover, teenage and young adult depression is difficult to recognize and distinguish from other psychological problems, such as anxiety, ADD and substance abuse.

Nothing happens in a vacuum. Thus, it is important to look for and recognize the signs that potential suicide victims display. With early detection, depression is one of the easiest disorders to remediate. It is important to know your child, to remember you are a parent, and will always be a parent until the day you die; you are entitled to parent, interfere, and intervene for the safety of your child.

Parents can also try the following:

  1. Talk, talk, talk. Always have a running conversation with your teen or young adult. Talk to him about things that matter and pertain to him, including depression and suicide. There is always something that parents who are involved in their children’s lives can do to prevent suicide. And, as in all things, prevention is of course your best option. Know your child or young adult, his lifestyle, and his friends. If someone he knows commits suicide, it is imperative to immediately open the discussion while watching his responses.
  • Be careful never to discount or dismiss your teen or young adults feelings. But rather, value and validate what they are willing to share; this allows you to be proactive.
  • Before you raise an issue or problem with your teen or young adult, be certain you have done your homework and researched answers and solutions.
  • Be aware of support services and mental health professionals. Offer your child not only access, but your company – letting him know you are there for them 100 percent.
  • Pay attention to your child’s moods and feelings, and take seriously any threat of suicide. And, if your child has a substance abuse problem, pay attention to it, and deal with it honestly.
  • Educate yourself on the most effective ways to discuss suicide and depression with your teen or young adult.

In the final analysis, suicide does have a contagious effect, and in fact, can be generational. It is important to actively recognize the signs of depression, substance abuse, changes in your teen’s behavior in school or on the job, so you can take the initiative, and intervene early.


  • Dr. Gail Gross

    Author and Parenting, Relationships, and Human Behavior Expert

    Dr. Gail Gross, Ph.D., Ed.D., M.Ed., a member of the American Psychological Association (APA) and member of APA Division 39, is a nationally recognized family, child development, and human behavior expert, author, and educator. Her positive and integrative approach to difficult issues helps families navigate today’s complex problems. Dr. Gross is frequently called upon by national and regional media to offer her insight on topics involving family relationships, education, behavior, and development issues. A dependable authority, Dr. Gross has contributed to broadcast, print and online media including CNN, the Today Show, CNBC's The Doctors, Hollywood Reporter, FOX radio, FOX’s The O’Reilly Factor, MSNBC, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Times of India, People magazine, Parents magazine, Scholastic Parent and Child Magazine, USA Today, Univision, ABC, CBS, and KHOU's Great Day Houston Show. She is a veteran radio talk show host as well as the host of the nationally syndicated PBS program, “Let’s Talk.” Also, Dr. Gross has written a semi-weekly blog for The Huffington Post and has blogged at EmpowHER.com since 2013. Recently, Houston Women's Magazine named her One of Houston's Most Influential Women of 2016. Dr. Gross is a longtime leader in finding solutions to the nation’s toughest education challenges. She co-founded the first-of-its kind Cuney Home School with her husband Jenard, in partnership with Texas Southern University. The school serves as a national model for improving the academic performance of students from housing projects by engaging the parents. Dr. Gross also has a public school elementary and secondary campus in Texas that has been named for her. Additionally, she recently completed leading a landmark, year-long study in the Houston Independent School District to examine how stress-reduction affects academics, attendance, and bullying in elementary school students, and a second study on stress and its effects on learning. Such work has earned her accolades from distinguished leaders such as the Dalai Lama, who presented her with the first Spirit of Freedom award in 1998. More recently, she was honored in 2013 with the Jung Institute award. She also received the Good Heart Humanitarian Award from Jewish Women International, Perth Amboy High School Hall of Fame Award, the Great Texan of the Year Award, the Houston Best Dressed Hall of Fame Award, Trailblazer Award, Get Real New York City Convention's 2014 Blogging Award, and Woman of Influence Award. Dr. Gross’ book, The Only Way Out Is Through, is available on Amazon now and offers strategies for life’s transitions including coping with loss, drawing from dealing with the death of her own daughter. Her next book, How to Build Your Baby’s Brain, is also available on Amazon now and teaches parents how to enhance their child’s learning potential by understanding and recognizing their various development stages. And her first research book was published by Random House in 1987 on health and skin care titled Beautiful Skin. Dr. Gross has created 8 audio tapes on relaxation and stress reduction that can be purchased on Amazon.com. Most recently, Dr. Gross’s book, The Only Way Out is Through, was named a Next Generation Indie Book Awards Silver Medal finalist in 2020 and Winner of the 2021 Independent Press Awards in the categories of Death & Dying as well as Grief. Her latest book, How to Build Your Baby’s Brain, was the National Parenting Product Awards winner in 2019, the Nautilus Book Awards winner in 2019, ranked the No. 1 Best New Parenting Book in 2019 and listed among the Top 10 Parenting Books to Read in 2020 by BookAuthority, as well as the Next Generation Indie Book Awards Gold Medal winner in 2020 and Winner of the 2021 Independent Press Awards in the category of How-To. Dr. Gross received a BS in Education and an Ed.D. (Doctorate of Education) with a specialty in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Houston. She earned her Master’s degree in Secondary Education with a focus on Psychology from the University of St. Thomas in Houston. Dr. Gross received her second PhD in Psychology, with a concentration in Jungian studies. Dr. Gross was the recipient of Kappa Delta Pi An International Honor Society in Education. Dr. Gross was elected member of the International English Honor Society Sigma Tau Delta.