September is National Suicide Prevention Month. I wanted to do a post to highlight some warning signs as well as some tips for talking to your kids about suicide.
Specific warning signs that your child is thinking about suicide include:
- Actually talking about dying (this can include any mention of jumping, shooting, harming, disappearing, etc.)
- Changes in behavior (difficulty managing previously routine tasks, difficulty concentrating on school work, giving away valued possessions, acting recklessly/taking unnecessary risks, etc.)
- Changes in personality (more withdrawn, sad, anxious, irritable, etc.)
- Changes in sleep habits (staying up very late, waking up very early, or oversleeping, etc.)
Talking to your child about suicide:
- First and foremost, let them know you love them and care deeply about them
- Focus on your concern for their well-being
- Be calm and do not accuse them of anything
- Discuss the possibility to seeing a therapist, physician, or other helping professional
- Ask directly if they are having suicidal thoughts
It is important to not keep your concerns to yourself. Talk with other important adults in your child’s life. See your child’s doctor and ask for referrals to mental health professionals (counselors, social workers). Meet with your child’s school counselor, teacher(s), principal to set up in-school supports. Remember, you’re taking actions to protect your child’s life.
Finally, ALWAYS call 911 if there is an immediate risk. Another great resource is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
For more information, consult the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, www.asfp.org.