It is important that families are equipped with resources and information so that adults can talk to children about very serious topics, including suicide. As experts in child development and partners in your child’s well-being, we want to help. Here are some things to consider, along with links to more detailed information and important resources.
1. Be aware of these warning signs for suicide, and take them seriously.
- Suicide threats. These can be direct (I am going to kill myself) or indirect (I wish I could fall asleep and never wake up), and can be either verbal or written, including online.
- Preoccupation with death in conversation, writing, drawing, or online.
- Giving away prized possessions.
- Changes in behavior, appearance, hygiene, thoughts, mood, sleeping patterns, and eating habits.
- Emotional distress, loss of interest or pleasure in usual activities, and withdrawal.
- Substance use or abuse.
2. Ask your child if they think any of their friends exhibit the warning signs above, and talk to them about seeking help for that person and not keeping the information secret – even if their friend asked them to.
3. Be knowledgeable about these myths and facts on this important topic.
- MYTH: Talking about suicide will make someone choose death by suicide.
- FACT: There is no evidence to suggest that talking about suicide plants the idea.
- MYTH: People who struggle with depression and mental illness are just weak.
- FACT: Depression and mental illness are serious health conditions and are treatable.
- MYTH: People who talk about suicide won’t really do it.
- FACT: People who are thinking about suicide, particularly young people, typically show warning signs as listed above. Always take a threat seriously.
4. If you are concerned about your child or one of their peers, seek help from a mental health professional, either within the school or in the community.
5. If a student or adult is struggling with thoughts of suicide, text START to 741741 or call 800-273-TALK or 911.
Most importantly, keep the lines of communication with your child open and contact us any time if you need support or assistance. Below are links to more detailed information from the National Association of School Psychologists, National Suicide Prevention Hotline, Mental Health Association, and NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness).
https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ or (800)273-8255