10 Things Parents Can Do to Prevent Suicide

With recent suicides of high profile public figures the subject of how to prevent suicide is a timely one. Did you know, according to the Centers for Disease Control, among children and young adults, ages 10 to 24, suicide is the third leading cause of death with roughly 4600 lives lost each year? As concerning as that statistic is, far more U.S. children and young adults attempt suicide with approximately 157,000 arriving at emergency rooms with self-inflicted wounds on an annual basis.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recently published an excellent article providing 10 things that parents can do to to help prevent suicide in their children. You can find a link to the full article below along with a listing of the specific things parents can do to help keep their children safe. 

  1. Pay close attention to your child or teen's depression and anxiety. If they are increasing in severity address them early. 
  2. Be attentive to your child or teen's communication, even when they are not talking much. When a child or teen is thinking about suicide there are often warning signs in the form of troubled behavior or actions. 
  3. Never take at threat of suicide lightly. Yes, children and teens can be dramatic when life isn't going their way. However, no threat of suicide should be pushed aside as melodrama. If your child or teen makes any statement suggesting he/she may be thinking of self-harm do not dismiss it. It is critical, in that moment, you open your heart and ears to listen non-judgmentally.
  4. If your child or teen behaves in a manner that has you concerned seek help right away. DO NOT WAIT! Call your pediatrician or a local mental health provider that works with children or adolescents to have your child or teen evaluated right away. If you are unable to see your child or teen's pediatrician or a mental health provider right away and you believe your child is actively suicidal take him/her to the nearest emergency room.
  5. It is important to share your feelings with your child or teen. Tell him/her that feelings of sadness and anxiety are common.  Without minimizing how he/she feels, let him/her know that all challenging times are temporary and will pass. Ensure him/er things can and will get better with counseling and other treatments.
  6. Help your child or teen avoid isolation. It is, more often than not, better to be around others.
  7. Encourage exercise. There is sound research showing that exercise causes hormonal changes that can help improve mood.
  8. Until the effects of counseling or other treatments begin to take effect it is best to avoid additional responsibilities or stressors to your child or teen's life. It is important to help your child or teen manage the responsibilities he/she has, reducing others that are non-essential and focusing on more rewarding low stress activities until he/she begins to feel more confident and exhibit improvements in mood.
  9. Remind your child or teen that progress in treatment takes time. Feeling better will happen, but it will not happen over night. It is important to not be discouraged when things do not change right away.
  10. Keep all firearms at home safely stored or keep them out of the house altogether until the child or teen's mood state has significantly improved. 

The full article published by the American Academic of Pediatrics can be found HERE.