Recent research conducted by Jigsaw published in the Irish Journal of Psychological Medicine (2015) found that:

  • Young men are more likely to experience thoughts of hurting themselves, low self-esteem and feelings of sadness or loss. They also experience anger and family problems.
  • Young women are more likely to experience anxiety and thoughts of hurting themselves, and experience isolation issues.

Here we give a simple guide of symptoms for three issues that parents can look out for in young people:

  • Depression
  • Self-harm
  • Drugs


  • Symptoms can include a number of the following:
  • continuous low/sad mood, dramatic change in personality.
  • being angry, irritable and intolerant of others
  • changes in appetite/sleep patterns
  • lack of energy, loss of motivation and loss of interest in hobbies, sports etc.
  • losing interest in studies, missing school days
  • not socialising, staying in room, withdrawing from family members
  • signs of the person feeling worthless/low self esteem
  • frequent tearfulness

Self Harm

Self harm is not looking for attention as some people may think as it is usually carried out in secret and can be difficult to detect. Psychologists say that self-harm helps people to control their emotional pain. Symptoms may include the following:

  • unexplained cuts, bruises or cigarette burns, usually on their arms, wrists, chest and sometimes on the legs
  • unexplained bloodstains on clothes etc
  • sharp objects such as blades, knives, needles, glass, on the person’s belongings.
  • keeping themselves covered at all times (particularly the arms)
  • signs of low self-esteem
  • signs of hair pulling/loss
  • loss of interest in personal hygiene/appearance
  • mixing with a new circle of friends
  • alone for long periods of time in bathroom/bedroom


Some of these symptoms are common in depression also.

  • changes in appetite/sleep patterns
  • not looking after their physical appearance
  • looking for more spending money or unexplained use of money
  • not socialising, change of friends/location
  • losing interest in hobbies/sports etc
  • neglecting responsibilities
  • change in how they interact with family/people etc
  • the discovery of objects such as small medicine bottles, rolling paper, pipes, scorched tin-foil, razor blades, syringes etc. in their bedroom
  • periods of unusual hyperactivity or agitation
  • appears fearful, withdrawn, anxious or paranoid for no apparent reason.