Suicide Prevention: How Can Parents Help Their Kids?

Suicide is now the second leading cause of death among 10 to 24-year-olds. A variety of factors contribute to the intolerable anguish a suicidal student feels, and they may not be able to see the help that is available to them. Parents can play a crucial role by intervening and supporting their child to prevent any more lives lost to suicide.


Understand The Risk Factors

The first step is learning about the risk factors that put children at a greater chance of engaging in suicidal behavior.

  • Psychological disorders including depression, anxiety, trauma, and substance abuse are the leading risk factor for suicidal tendencies. About 90% of people who have died by suicide had a psychological disorder
  • Previous attempts to complete suicide
  • Major life-changing events that can cause high levels of distress (divorce, loss of a loved one, abuse, etc.)
  • Bullying/Cyberbullying
  • Lack of social support from peers

Know The Signs

It is important to observe your children and be aware of any changes. Noticing these changes will be your opportunity to intervene, open communication and connect your child to professional help.

  • Suicide notes
  • Direct and indirect threats of suicide expressed verbally and through social media
  • Giving away prized possessions
  • Changes in appearance and routine (poor hygiene, weight loss or gain, inability to sleep, sleeping more than usual, etc.)
  • Changes in social behavior and isolating within the home
  • Low mood and loss of interest in activities

What To Do

If you notice any of these changes, do not ignore them. Instead, approach your child and let them know that you are concerned. Here are some tips on how to have this intimidating conversation:

  • Remain calm and provide reassurance to your child. Let your child know how much they matter and how much they are loved.
  • Do not be afraid to use the word suicide. Be direct in the questions you ask (“Are you thinking about suicide?”).
  • Tell your child that you will help them in overcoming their challenges and problems.
  • Be open-minded as your child talks to you about their struggles and feelings.
  • Most importantly, remove or secure all means of self-harm from the home (firearms, pills, razor blades, etc.). Try not to leave your child alone for extended periods of time.

How To Get Professional Help

  • If you think your child is a risk to themselves in any way, go to an emergency room. You can also contact your child’s primary care physician to get a referral for mental health treatment. It may be beneficial for your child to seek therapy through a counselor or therapist.

Additional Resources

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