Teen Suicide and Being the Good Parent
What are warning signs or behaviors that my teen may be thinking about suicide?
Teen suicide often occurs after a recent stressful life event in the family, with a friend, or at school. It is important for you to know the warning signs for suicide so you can get your teen the help she/he needs. A teen who is considering suicide might have one or more of these behaviors:
- Suicidal ideation (thinking, writing, drawing or talking about suicide, death, dying or the afterlife)
- Dependence on alcohol or drugs
- Lack of a sense of purpose in life
- Trouble focusing or thinking clearly
- Increased withdrawal from family, friends, school, jobs and society. Poor grades may be a sign that the child is withdrawing at school.
- Lack of interest in favorite activities
- Reckless or risk-taking behaviors
- Rash, bizarre or violent behavior
- Changed eating or sleeping patterns (such as being unable to sleep or sleeping all the time)
- Deep feelings of grief, uncontrolled anger, anxiety, shame, hopelessness, guilt or anxiety
- Threatening to or talking about wanting to hurt or kill him/herself
- Creating suicide notes
- Expressing odd or troubling thoughts
- Showing a dramatic change in personality or appearance
- Throwing or giving away or promising to give away valued possessions to family members or friends
- Talking about not being around in the future or “going away”
- Searching for and trying to obtain weapons, pills, or other means ways to kill him/herself
- Do not ignore these warning signs.
- Talk openly with your child and express concern, support, and love. If your child does not feel comfortable talking to you, suggest that s/he talk to another trusted adult such as a family member, a pastor, minister, rabbi or priest, a coach, a school counselor, or a family doctor.
- Do not leave your teen alone.
- Remove the objects your child might use to harm him/herself. Make sure your teen does not have access to guns, other possible weapons or medications.
- Seek help immediately from:
- Your child’s doctor;
- Mental health services (Ask your doctor for a referral.);
- The nearest emergency room;
- Emergency services (911); and/or
- A suicide hotline.