Suicide has risen to the #2 cause of death in children 10 to 18 years old.
I don't know about you...but as an educator, parent, grandparent and friend that scares me to death! I don't want to think about it much less talk about it or write about it. But...
Suicide threats are sometimes the way our children ask for help.
Threats of suicide should never be discounted or dismissed.
So what do we do?
This is a HUGE topic and requires a mountain of information for each person affected. I almost feel trite trying to give a bit of wisdom...but here goes:
- Take it seriously. We so want to pretend they don't mean it...but when they say it, they are asking for help. Deal with it.
- Listen and ask questions. Ask, "why would you say that?" Don't argue; listen and love. Being heard, even when it hurts you, eases the tension they feel.
- Ask the tough questions: "Do you have a plan?" If the answer is yes, don't let them leave your presence. Call for help.
- Ask for a promise that they will not hurt themselves without first contacting you. They take that as a solemn promise. It will buy you time to find help and work with them.
- Touch base with them at least daily. Reaching out to them will improve their self image. Don't let them be alone for too long.
- If they will not promise to contact you, call the police. They may be angry with you, but they will be alive. You can handle their anger.
- Tell them how special they are in your eyes and how sad life would be if they weren't in it.
- Don't say, "Oh, you don't mean that!" That negates their feelings. Say, instead, "What has happened that you would feel this way (or hopeless, or...).
- Know these are only crisis tactics. If someone you love is contemplating suicide, GET HELP NOW!
National Suicide Intervention Lifeline: Call 1-800-273-8255
Mental Health Association: https://www.mhanational.org/conditions/suicide
Journal of American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
re: 13 Reasons Why
Centers for Disease Control US