Parents, What to Do If Your Child Is Suicidal
By Jeanette Lorandini
If you’ve just learned that your child is suicidal, it’s only natural to feel lost on what to do.
Knowing that your teen is struggling so much that they want to end their life is heartbreaking for any parent. You likely want to swoop them up and protect them, and yet, what you need is a plan.
By starting with the immediate issue and working your way out, you can be critical support for your teen. This strategy involves direct intervention, listening, understanding, and promoting a safe environment.
Finally, teen counseling can serve as another critical link in this support system, as well.
Intervene If Your Child Is Suicidal
First and foremost, you need to intervene if your child is suicidal to ensure that they are safe. If your teen is in danger, call 911 for immediate help. Another resource is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1 (800) 273-8255.
Don’t hesitate to ask for help. Sometimes parents might be reluctant to “make a big deal” out of a situation. Yet, that ought to pale in comparison to your child’s safety.
Listen to Your Teen, and Take Them Seriously
Next, it’s essential to listen to your teen and to take their concerns seriously. There may be issues that they are struggling with that you may not have been aware of before.
It can be hard, as a parent, to admit that you didn’t recognize that your teen has been hurting. You might have misinterpreted other behaviors, such as acting out or misbehaving.
Though now is not the time for regrets. Instead, focus on listing to your teen. You don’t need to have all the answers, but be present and hear them out.
Assess Your Home for Safety Hazards
If your teen has expressed suicidal thoughts or actions, it would be prudent to take some safety precautions at home. Secure sharp objects, such as knives, silverware, and tools. Medications, whether they’re prescription drugs, over the counter, or recreational (including alcohol and marijuana), should also be locked, too. The same goes for cleaning solutions, household chemicals. If there is a firearm in the home, lock it up in a safe and secure any ammunition.
Take the Time to Connect with Your Teen
A part of any suicide prevention plan should be increasing the amount of time and communication that you spend with your child. This approach serves two purposes. Firstly, you are keeping an eye on their physical safety. Secondly, you strengthen your relationship with your teen.
Do things that are fun and that your family already likes to do. When people, in general, are more connected to others, they feel less isolated and alone. Isolation fuels the mental health problems that lead to suicidal thoughts and feelings.
Don’t Be Afraid to Talk About It
Parents can be reluctant to talk about suicide with their teens. They might be afraid that the discussion will inadvertently motivate their teen to want to harm themselves, which is incredibly rare.
Instead, having an honest and open dialogue about what your teen is feeling and experiencing is very helpful towards suicide prevention. Remember, teens, like all people, want to be understood.
By getting to the root issues for why they feel suicidal, you can better support them in the healing process.
Teen Counseling If Your Child Is Suicidal
Finally, it’s critical that you get professional help and that your child participates in teen counseling. This situation is not something that you should or ought to have to face on your own.
A counselor who understands teens and their mental health will be able to shed light on the situation. Also, they will help your child heal emotionally too. Additionally, consider finding a therapist for yourself as well.
When a child is suicidal, you feel so helpless. You want them to be better. They can get there, with both your help as well as the support of teen counseling.
Please contact our offices today or visit our page on teen counseling to learn more about how we can help.