Concerned About Your Son or Daughter?
Here’s what to say and do:
- Set aside what you are doing and give your child focused attention. Be willing to listen and accept all feelings.
- Approach or respond to your child in a caring and calm manner.
- Let your child know that he/she is not alone and that you will help him/her through this difficult time.
- Be aware of changes in your child’s behavior.
- Don’t be afraid to discuss suicide for fear that it will put ideas into a child’s head. In fact, all available evidence indicates that talking to your child lowers the risk of suicide. The message is “suicide is not an option; help is available.”
- Remove all firearms, knives and prescriptions from the home.
- Know your family’s medical history, including any depression or other emotional concerns. Also, be aware of possible side effects of new medications.
- Act quickly if you are concerned. Call the police if you believe your child is in imminent danger (please see enclosed resource list).
- Advocate for your child until he/she is safe. Sometimes, others may minimize the risks or warning signs for a particular child. It is important that you keep advocating for your child until you are certain he/she is safe.
Here’s what not to say or do:
- Don’t respond in an angry fashion.
- Don’t act shocked; this will put distance between you.
- Don’t deny or criticize your child’s feelings.
- Don’t assume your child is doing this to hurt you.
- Don’t blame yourself. Emotional problems are not uncommon and they are very treatable.
- Don’t assume your child is doing this for attention.
- Don’t be judgmental or get into a debate about whether suicide is right or wrong.
- Don’t be sworn to secrecy. Seek help and support.
- Don’t leave your child alone. If you are concerned, stay with the child and seek help, even if he/she denies “meaning it”.
Sources: American Association of Suicidology and National Association of School Psychologists.