Medical experts are encouraging parents to talk to their children about suicide.
According to suicide prevention experts asking a child directly about suicidal thoughts is typically the best thing a parent can do to make their child feel comfortable discussing their emotions and to seek help.
“For the young person, having this discussion can be incredibly relieving. It is a powerful opportunity to understand that being emotionally open, especially about thoughts of suicide, can lead to healing and connection rather than shame and isolation,” says John Ackerman, Ph.D., clinical psychologist and suicide prevention coordinator for the Center for Suicide Prevention and Research at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
According to statistics from the National Institutes of Mental Health half of mental health issues start by age 14. Nationwide Children’s Hospital has provided the below tips for families and teachers:
- Do not wait for a crisis. A good opportunity to talk about suicide or mental health issues is when things are going well.
- Check in regularly and ask your child directly how they are doing and if they have ever had thoughts about ending their life.
- Look for changes in mood or behavior that might be a warning sign that something is wrong. For example, if the child seems really down, they stop doing things they normally enjoy, or you notice significant changes in eating or sleeping.
If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255), or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741. You can find more information here.