How Big is the Problem?
Suicide is the third leading cause of death in teens in the United States. Even more teens attempt suicide each year.
Suicide is a larger risk than homicide.
Suicide is often preventable.
What are the Warning Signs?
Seek help as soon as possible for your child if you become aware of:
- Extreme mood changes
- Sudden appetite or weight changes
- Talk about suicide, death, or wishing to ‘go away and never come back’
- Giving away prized personal items to loved ones
- Writing a will, planning a funeral, or creating poems, letters or art that is focused on death and dying
- Self injury, harm to animals, or firesetting
- Sudden decline in grades, social isolation, or antisocial behavior
- Excessive or little-to-no sleep
- Your child’s desire to be with someone who is deceased
- Unexplained physical complaints
What can I do to Reduce Risk?
As a parent you can do a lot to reduce your child’s risks, even when they are not struggling:
- Keep all firearms locked way, keep ammunition locked separately.
- Monitor your child for signs of substance use and abuse; consider removing it from your home or monitoring it closely.
- If your child is prescribed medications, ensure they take them correctly and keep all treatment appointments. Discuss problems with your provider, don’t just stop.
- Insist your child spends a significant amount of time outside of his or her room.
- If you are concerned your child may self-injure; remove objects that can be used for this from his or her room.
- Attend to physical complaints, and seek out healthcare.
- Get involved with school and find out if there are concerns.
- Ask questions; find out who your child eats with, visits with, and does with free time; remember, kids need you to ask questions.
- Model healthy coping skills, like reading, exercising and talking things out.
- Have the courage to set limits; it’s ok to say no to any activity you feel puts your child at risk.
- Seek professional support if your child is exposed to trauma (like a friend’s suicide, a sudden death of a loved on, or abuse).
- Find out what you can do to monitor your child’s social media, like texting, Facebook, and internet searching.