Suicide: How to save your child

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We wanted to share our top tips on what to do if you suspect your child is exhibiting suicidal thoughts or behavior. We know this can be a scary subject but these very basic tips could save a life… Do this, not that… and always consult a professional for help!

 

By Brittany Dyer

 

Suicide is a major health concern yet not openly talked about. Suicide is tragic, and it’s almost always preventable. Since you can find plenty of information about the signs of suicide, this article will give you tips on what you should and shouldn’t do if you suspect your child has suicidal thoughts, but please also do your own research on the signs of suicide. Learning the signs of suicide could help prevent suicide in your child’s life.

 

Here are some DOs and DON’Ts if you expect your child may have suicidal thoughts:

  • DO be there for them. Let them talk and even cry. It might be scary to hear some of the things they say, but listening to them can help. Know that sharing this information with you is also scary for them. Don’t overreact because they are already scared for having these thoughts. It’s okay to let them know you are scared for them, but don’t ignore the problem because you are scared of it.
  • DO talk with them about it. It’s okay to ask them why they want to harm themselves. Don’t push them to answer questions, but listen when they want to talk; this shows that you care.
  • DO be supportive when they are ready to talk about it. Don’t shame them for feeling this way because they are more than likely already feeling ashamed for feeling this way.
  • DO try to make small gestures to let them know you care. You could write them a note or send a text.
  • DO make yourself available for them to come to you when they need help. Also, make sure they have a hotline number, so if you aren’t available, they will have someone else to talk with. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number in the US is 1-800-273-TALK (2855) and in Bangkok, Thailand it is (02) 713-6793.
  • DO recognize the severity of the situation. A suicidal person is feeling hopeless. They believe they cannot change the situation. If you hear your child say he has no purpose in life, take this comment seriously. If you believe they are suicidal, do refer them for professional help.
  • DO seek help with your reactions to the situation. Suicide is a difficult topic for everyone involved.
  • DO be patient with them. It can be frustrating dealing with a child who is suicidal, especially if they are acting out but remember their feelings are not going to change overnight.
  • DO ask them how you can help.
  • DO learn as much as you can about suicide by educating yourself on depression, self-harm and suicide.
  • DON’T use tough-love. Don’t say “go ahead and do it” because it might just happen.
  • DON’T keep asking for information if they don’t want to talk about it. However, if they come to you later and want to talk be open and available.
  • DON’T judge or criticize them. You are an important person in their life, what you say can influence them. Even if their appearance or personality has changed, try your best to not judge them and continue to show love. You can lovingly ask them about the recent changes and be genuine in trying to understand. They more than likely already have feelings of worthlessness, so judgmental comments can make the situation worse.
  • DON’T tell them your negative thoughts or feelings. Even if you think the person is wrong, keep your opinions to yourself. Your negativity could  make the situation worse.

If you are in this this situation I realize actually acting out these tips in the moment might be hard to do, especially when it involves someone you love but it could just save your child’s life.

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