Teen Suicide and Being the Good Parent

Teen Suicide and Being the Good Parent

We are not going to talk about the third leading cause of death among teenagers, rather overcoming the fear that prevents us from taking action against suicide.
Moms, when it comes to our kids, our natural tendency is to want to nurture and fix.  We get so wrapped up in our own parenting needs that we have a miss on stepping up and taking action. Before I get buckets of email, please stop and ask yourself, “Am I afraid of coming off too heavy, mean or not understanding?”  This is not the time to be your child’s best friend, or even fear that your child won’t like you if you take action.  Parenting is not a popularity contest. It’s about being a responsible adult raising  children to become responsible adults. Every time a mother ask me “am I doing the right thing” I have to ask them, “what if you don’t do anything…..”   Parents, take action! If your child displays the below traits, get help (hot line numbers are listed at the bottom of this post)
New York State Department of Health

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
What are signs that my teen may have a suicide plan?
  • 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
How can I help a teen who is thinking or talking about suicide?
  • 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.
How can I find a suicide hotiline?

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