There are a number of peer and social stressors that can contribute to depression and suicidal behaviors. The Division of Psychiatry at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center provides examples of these stressors to help friends and family recognize potential warning signs.

Research shows that friends are the first chosen sources of support for teenagers. Therefore, it is important that teenagers know how to recognize signs of depression and suicidal behaviors in their friends and talk to them in a helpful way, as well as know where to go for help.

Examples of Peer / Social Stressors

Stressful life events often precede a suicide. Often the life event occurs at a time when the person is struggling, turning this life event into “the straw that breaks the camel’s back.”

  • A rejection − such as a break-up with a girlfriend or boyfriend
  • Disciplinary crisis − could involve legal problems, or a crisis at home or school
  • Humiliation − being dishonored in some way
  • Gossip / cliques
  • Teasing / bullying
  • Impressing others
  • Peer pressure
  • Online social life
  • Pregnancy
  • High pressure to succeed − i.e., feeling pressured to excel or thinking one cannot meet others’ expectations
  • School stressors
  • Academic stressors and test anxiety
  • Over scheduling
  • Overly full calendar  
  • Lack of support and connection at school. In fact, school connectedness is a protective factor for depression and suicide. If a child feels he is being picked on or singled out by teachers or others at school, he is at risk for depression.
  • Perfectionism − Many suicide victims were perfectionists, having rigid thinking. A perfectionist has “all or none” thinking, which is thinking they have to be all “perfect” or they are “no good” at all. Of course, since no one is perfect, a perfectionist will often feel like a failure, no good at all, or never good enough