The literature clearly point to the fact that there are certain factors that protect youth or build resilience in youth against suicide. According to Fuller, McGraw and Goodyear (cited in Rowling, Martin & Walker, 2001, 85-86):

‘The factors that protect young people against suicidal behaviour include social support and their relationships with family and peers, as well as a broad repertoire of coping, help-seeking and problem-solving skills. Social connectedness is the strongest antidote to suicide that we know. Young people who are resilient have stronger connections to school, family and peers, and young people with those links are less likely to develop suicidal thoughts or behaviours (Resnick, Harris & Blum 1993; Fuller, Wilkins & Wilson 1998).’

It is interesting to note that these same resilience factors are also positively associated with reducing the level of problematic substance abuse in young people and reducing the incidence of depression and delinquent behaviours (Fuller, McGraw & Goodyear, 2001, 88). It is vital for parents, schools and other youth groups to work together in promoting resilience and positive healthy relationships.

Whilst it would be too soon to yell out to the world and say we now can prevent these problems with certainty, this knowledge is a great step forward and can be a source for increasing parents confidence in being able to cope with adolescents with problem behaviours.

In the next post we’ll discuss the challenge of eating disorders when parenting a problem adolescent. Keep an eye for it!