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Blog: A Parent's Guide to Suicide

Image of mother and teen sonSuicide is the second leading cause of death for adolescents and young adults ages 10 to 24, and according to the American Association of Suicidology for every one youth death there are between 100 and 200 attempts.
These numbers are staggering, and especially scary for parents to think about.
Psychologists recommend key steps for parents to take today: 

Talk to your pre-teen, teen or young adult about suicide.

Ask the direct question: “Have you ever felt so bad that you have had thoughts of suicide?” The question won’t put the thought into their head. In fact, research has shown that the question shows that you are interested and engaged in their well-being.

Look for the warning signs.

  • Feeling like a burden
  • Being isolated
  • Displaying increased anxiety
  • Feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
  • Showing signs of increased substance use
  • Looking for a way to access lethal means
  • Demonstrating increased anger or rage
  • Experiencing extreme mood swings
  • Expressing hopelessness
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Talking or posting about wanting to die
  • Making plans for suicide

 Listen for suicidal ideation. Statements such as:

“I should just kill myself.”
“I’ve got no reason to live.”
“Everyone would be better off without me.”
“There’s no way out of this.”
“I can’t live like this anymore.”
“I can’t take this pain anymore.”

Understand the link between impulsivity and suicidal behavior.

The prefrontal cortex isn’t completely developed until ages 25 to 30, which means teens are especially prone to impulsivity, which is a personality trait that often accompanies suicidal behavior.

Know the most common methods of suicide for ages 10 to 24.

  • Suffocation
  • Firearm
  • Poisoning

Have crisis resources on hand and share them with your entire family.

Phone and text lines are available for kids in crisis. Hopeline is a great resource for Northeast Wisconsin. 
Suicide is a complex and fraught issue. Mark your calendar to attend our annual Northeast Wisconsin Suicide Prevention Summit, taking place virtually on Thursday, October 22. Communication is of paramount importance, and our theme this year is “The Language of Suicide.” Presenters will address this topic from multi-faceted viewpoints. Learn more and register.
Psychology Today, “7 Simple Steps for Suicide Prevention,” November 13, 2019, Kailey Spina Horan, Ph.D.,LMHC

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