Suicide Prevention Tips for Parents  

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.