September 5, 2023
September is National Suicide Prevention Month
Every September, we observe Suicide Prevention Month. This annual marker reminds us to speak openly, empathically, and compassionately with our children and families regarding the second leading cause of death for children between ages 10-14 years old. Nobody is alone. Support is available for you, your family, and your child. This month’s blog has more information on the warning signs caregivers should be aware of as well as additional resources to help you begin the difficult yet important conversation surrounding suicide with your child.
I am worried my child might be suicidal... what should I look for?
If you suspect your child may be thinking about suicide, you may observe one or more of the following:
1.Talking about death, dying, or not being here anymore
2.Changes in sleep, eating habits, and/or behavior
3.Withdrawal from friends, family, and/or preferred activities
4.Increased drug/alcohol use
5.Giving away valuables or personal belongings to others
6.Sudden or drastic state of euphoria and/or peacefulness following state of depression or any of the above aforementioned warning signs.
I am worried my child might be suicidal... what should I do?
- Be sure that your child does not have access to means to attempt suicide. Ensure all firearms and medications located in the home are appropriately stored and inaccessible.
- Be aware of where your child is at all times – do not leave them without supervision.
- Prepare to have an open conversation with your child and seek guidance from a mental health professional.
- If you believe your child is in imminent danger, call 911.
How can we teach children/teens to report warning signs of others?
Keep an open and understanding channel of communication open between you and your child. He/she should be encouraged to approach you with any information about friends/peers that is concerning to them. Social media has become an increasingly prevalent platform for adolescents to communicate their affective states. If your child does inform you that a friend or peer has posted something that sounds alarming, report it immediately to your district administration (i.e., school psychologist, principal, guidance counselor).
1. Talking about suicide and asking questions about suicide will increase the likelihood that my child will think of, attempt, or complete suicide. FALSE.
a. Discussing suicide with your child is the first step to addressing the true cause of their thoughts and pain. It opens the door to getting help to manage their pain in an adaptive, healing manner. This conversation should be supported by a mental health professional.
2. Suicide occurs unexpectedly, with no warning at all. FALSE.
a. Be aware of the warning signs and maintain an open dialogue with your child and any supports necessary, such as a mental health provider.
3. Children and teens who threaten suicide are just seeking attention. FALSE.
a. If a child or teen shows signs or verbally states they are suicidal, they need immediate attention. However, this is not to say that their suicidality is to gain attention or to be “dramatic.”
4. Only depressed children and teens think about or attempt suicide. FALSE.
a. Although it is known that children and teens with preexisting mental health conditions are at an increased risk for suicide, anyone may be at risk for self-harm and suicide at any point in their life.
1.Call 988 - Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, available 24 hours
2.Text HOME to 741741 for theCrisis Text Line, available 24 hours
This is a crisis-intervention hotline that conducts conversations exclusively by text message. Trained crisis counselors are available 24 hours a day.
3.Call 1-866-488-7386 for the Trevor Lifeline, available 24 hours
The only national 24/7 crisis intervention and suicide prevention lifeline for LGBTQ young people under 25.