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Suicide Prevention Through Young Adulthood
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
- Committing suicide (SUE-ih-side) is the act of killing yourself. A person who tries to kill himself has sadness and deep personal pain. Suicide is the point where a person cannot handle the pain that they feel. Suicide is the person's way of trying to end this pain. People often act differently before they try to commit suicide. It is important for you to watch for these warning signs in your child.
- Often a person who has deep personal pain has a hard time talking about it. Your child may be ashamed or embarrassed, or may not want to bother friends or family with his problems. He may be in too much pain to talk about his problems. Suicidal thoughts may come from problems with friends, family, or school that are too hard to bear. They may come from your child's inner feelings about himself. Suicidal thoughts can also be caused by disorders like depression (deep sadness that lasts more than a few days). It is very important to get help if your child is sad or depressed and talking about committing suicide. A specially-trained caregiver should help your child handle his sadness and personal pain.
- Always give your child's medicine as directed by caregivers. Call your child's caregiver if you think your child's medicines are not helping. Or if you feel your child is having side effects. Do not quit giving the medicines to your child until you discuss it with your child's caregiver.
- Keep a written list of what medicines your child takes and when and why your child takes them. Bring the list of your child's medicines or the pill bottles when you visit your child's caregivers. Ask your child's caregiver for more information about the medicines. Do not give any medicines to your child without first asking your child's caregiver. This includes prescriptions, over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, herbs, or food supplements.
- Call your child's caregiver for a follow-up visit. Write down questions you have about your child's condition and how it is treated. This way you will remember to ask the questions during your next visit.
- Your child may be seen in a clinic or your caregiver's office. You and family members may have meetings with your child's caregiver. These meetings can help you and your child understand your child's condition. Caregivers will ask you and your child questions about how your child feels and thinks now. Your child may also be asked how he has felt and thought in the past. Caregivers will help your child talk about his feelings. Caregivers will teach you and your child the best ways to care for your child. Medicine may be used to treat your child's sadness and personal pain. It is important for you and your child to work together with your child's caregiver.
How can I help my child feel better about himself and his problems?
Find ways for your child to decrease the pain and increase ways to cope with (handle) the pain. Tell your child about these healthy ways to cope with sadness and pain:
- Be with other people. Tell your child to spend time with family and friends. He should talk to them about the way he feels. He should join a club or do other after school activities.
- Talk to people about your pain and sadness. Help your child understand that he can talk to you, another parent, or a close friend about his feelings. He can talk to a therapist, minister, rabbi, youth leader, or school counselor. Tell your child that these people want to know about what he is thinking and feeling.
- Read and write. Tell your child to read books, poetry, or other written things that makes him feel good. He may keep a daily journal. Your child can write about things that he does, what he thinks about, and how he feels.
- Eat good food and get plenty of sleep. Encourage your child to get enough sleep each night. Serve him healthy foods. Doing this will help your child's body and mind feel better.
- Exercise regularly. Your child should go out and play sports. If he does not like sports, your child can take regular long walks or hikes. He may bicycle with a friend or go to the gym. Help your child to find some type of exercise that he can do regularly.
- Do things that make you feel good. Tell your child that he should not allow others to do bad things to him. Your child may find personal peace by working on his spiritual life.
- Make a list of goals. Your child may make goals for what he is going to do for the day, month, or rest of the year. Your child can make goals for his life. Encourage your child to start doing things to make his goals happen. He can celebrate by checking off his goals as he finishes them.
- Volunteer to help others. Help your child find a group or organization that needs help. If you need help finding an organization, talk to a school counselor or church youth leader. Helping others may make both them and your child feel good.
How can I make my home safe for my child?
- Guns and other firearms are the most common way for adolescents (teenagers) to kill themselves. Remove all guns and other firearms from your home. Locking them up in a safe place does not make your home safe for a child at risk for committing suicide. Putting bullets or ammunition from the firearms also does not make your home safe for your child.
- Ask your child's caregiver about other ways to make your home safe for your child while he is sad or depressed.
What are some warning signs of suicide?
- Your child tells you he wants to commit suicide.
- Your child talks about his "plan" for committing suicide, or makes a will.
- Your child starts giving or throwing away his favorite things.
- Your child becomes suddenly very happy and cheerful after a time of depression and sadness.
- Your child has tried committing suicide before.
- Your child cuts himself, bangs his head against walls, or does other things to hurt himself.
- Your child acts in reckless ways that are dangerous and could kill him. For example, he may drive very fast and reckless or "takes risks" doing things that could hurt him.
- Your child says things to you that he would not normally say. Your teen may say things like: "I won't see you again." He may say "Soon I won't be a problem for you," or "I have no reason for living".
- Your child talks about voices telling him to kill himself.
- Your child is constantly sad and blue and he acts different than usual. Different things may be the way your child normally eats and sleeps. Your child stops caring about how he looks and dresses. Also gaining or losing weight or being tired often. Also if your child loses interest in his regular activities such as sports, hobbies, or seeing friends and family.
- Your child begins to joke, read, or write often about suicide, killing, and death. Also if your child begins to choose TV, movies, and music about death and violence very often.
- Your child abuses drugs or alcohol (liquor). This means that your child may uses one or both of these often.
- Some children are given antidepressants (depression medicine) for treatment of their depression or other problems. Warning signs of suicide in children taking antidepressants include increased depression. They also include talking or thinking about suicide and behaving (acting) very different than usual.
How can I help if my child says he wants to commit suicide?
- Let your child do the talking. Listen very carefully. Let your child know that you take his feelings and thoughts very seriously. Try to find out (focus on) what is causing his personal pain and sadness.
- Ask direct questions. Do not be afraid to ask direct questions. Ask "Are you thinking of committing suicide?" or "Are you thinking of ending your life?" You may also ask "Do you have a plan for hurting or killing yourself?"
- Stay with your child. Do not leave your child alone if he says he wants to commit suicide. By staying with your child, you may be saving his life.
- Get or call help immediately.
- Call 1-800-SUICIDE. This phone number is open all the time to help people who are thinking about suicide. You may also call the National Crisis Hotline at 1-800-999-9999.
- Call your child's regular caregiver. Tell the caregiver about your child's thoughts and feelings of suicide. Ask for the name of a qualified person like a psychologist (si-KALL-o-jist), psychiatrist (si-KI-uh-trist), or counselor. Make an appointment with a therapist or counselor who can talk to your child about his problems and ways to cope. If your child is depressed or has another mental problem, his therapist may give him medicine. It is very important to take your child to a specially-trained caregiver if your child talks about committing suicide.
More helpful information for you and your child:
- Suicide Awareness Voices of Education
9001 E. Bloomington Fwy, Ste 150
Bloomington , Minnesota 55420
Phone: 1- 952 - 946-7998
Web Address: http://www.save.org
- Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention Program of Los Angeles
24307 Magic Mountain Parkway #373
Valencia , California 91355
Phone: 1- 866 - 444-YRLA
Web Address: http://www.yellowribbon.org
- American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
3615 Wisconsin Avenue, NW
Washington , DC 20016
Phone: 1- 202 - 966-7300
Web Address: www.aacap.org
CONTACT A CAREGIVER IF:
- Your child is taking antidepressants, and his depression is getting worse. Call if your child is taking antidepressants and starts thinking about committing suicide or is behaving (acting) different than usual. For example, your child may begin to be more anxious, panicked (fearful), or angry. He may be more irritable, impulsive (acts without thinking), or cannot sleep and has too much energy (manic). Watch your child closely for these signs and symptoms especially as your child begins to take depression medicine. Watch your child closely whenever his dose (amount) of medicine is increased or decreased.
- Your child becomes sadder and you begin to see warning signs of suicide again.
- You have questions about your child, suicide, or the medicines your child is taking.
SEEK CARE IMMEDIATELY IF:
- Your child says he wants to commit suicide and has a plan or way to do it.
- Your child has done something on purpose to seriously hurt himself or tries to commit suicide.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.