“I don’t want him to be mad at me… It can’t be my kid… What’s wrong?… She has everything she wants… I just don’t understand…” Parents want to know what is going on with their children. In order to really know they have to question, listen, learn and respect the thoughts and feelings of their children. Ideally, all parents would operate in such a manner. Realistically, however, being a parent means doing the best you with what you are told. The thoughts and feelings of your children are not always expressed. You can only be there and be ready to listen, accept and love. “So what do I need to know?” Statistics representing adolescent suicide are alarming. Acknowledging the problem is difficult but necessary. It could be your child or one you know.
The first step is recognizing there is some concern and following up. In order to recognize the signs, you have to know what they are. In general, a change in behavior or interaction is a sign that there is something going on. Although all adolescents don’t exhibit the same signs, there are some common factors identified with increased risk. All signs are worth recognizing.
- Ideation – Is your child talking, drawing or writing about death?
- Substance Abuse – Is your child experimenting with drugs and/or alcohol?
- Purposelessness – Does your child exhibit purpose and planning for the future?
- Anxiety – Does your child seem nervous, worried or stressed?
- Trapped – Is motivation poor? Does your child express feelings of being trapped?
- Hopelessness – Is there a promise? Is there consideration for the future and the rest yet to come?
- Withdrawal – Is there a connection between you and your child? Does he/she connect with anyone?
- Anger – Does your child seem increasingly agitated or aggressive?
- Recklessness – Is your child engaging in risk-taking behaviors?
- Mood Changes – Have there been unusual or dramatic changes in mood or behavior?
Know it is time to do something. Acknowledge the concern and offer help. Many parents have been where you are and may feel what you feel. They know the difficulty in addressing the circumstances. They also know the potential of not doing so. Make the effort to open dialogue and communication with your teen regarding suicide.
TALK TO YOUR CHILD. PREVENTING SUICIDE IS WORTH THE DISCUSSION. LET YOUR CHILD KNOW IT IS OK AND HELP IS AVAILABLE. CALL 1-800-273-8255 24/7 FOR ASSISTANCE.
Reacting is seeking the appropriate help for your child and assisting in their immediate safety. Restrict access to lethal means by removing firearms, prescription medications or any other potential means. Actively link your child to a medical or mental health professional immediately. Stay with your child until they are linked to additional help. If you don’t know what to do, call Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, a resource available 24/7 that can assist you in finding help.