Teen Suicide Part 2: How Can a Parent Prevent It?

Reviewed May 27, 2017

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Summary

  • Take all threats seriously.
  • Get immediate expert help.
  • Help you child build a strong foundation for mental health.

Take all mentions of suicide seriously, even if they are couched in humor. Even if a child is crying wolf, respond to it as a cry for help.

There is no guarantee you can bully-proof or suicide-proof your child, but there is much you can do. Most of all, you want your child to know he is loved today and will always be loved. At the same time, you want your teen to have good coping skills to help handle the storms of life, later on.

Here are a few things you can do to help your teen through tough times:

1. Be there. Be there physically as well as emotionally. Spend one-on-one time with your teen. Let your teen know you care by keeping the door open for serious talk. Find a project you can work on together.

2. Educate yourself on what your teen is going through. There are many parenting books and resources available to help you maneuver the minefields of adolescence. Don’t just depend on your own experience. Ask an expert when you don’t know what to do.

3. Take all threats seriously, and do what you can to help. If you don’t know where to turn, ask someone at the school or in the mental health community.

4. Encourage your teen to learn new things, get involved in many different activities, and meet new people. Psychologist LeslieBeth Wish explains that hobbies and activities are great, but do far more good than keep a teen busy. They help a young person learn new things about themselves, especially things they can be proud of. They need to try on as many new roles as they have time for, because each one gives them a chance to experience low levels of conflict and resolution, while they build competence and self-esteem. They need to build bigger and bigger teams of friends. This way, if something goes wrong in one arena of their life, they have a solid bank of other strengths (and people) to fall back on.

“Think of your life as a three-legged footstool. Once one of those legs topples, you will fall,” says Wish. “Your goal is to always have more than three legs under you.”

You want to be able to say to your daughter, yes you did not get an A in biology, but look at how well you did in art class. You may not see this friend again, but look at all the other people you have in your life who like you.

You never want one single loss or setback to make a child feel hopeless about the future.

5. Try to help your teen build a spiritual life, whether it be within organized religion or as a part of nature. Spirituality helps us find strength and guidance in a higher power, and learn about paths others have taken. Your teen needs to feel a part of something bigger than herself or her own problems. A spiritual life will help her learn more about herself and how she fits into the world around her.

6. Tap into mental health resources in your school or community. If your child is depressed, make sure he gets professional help. Keep in mind that a diagnosis of depression does not necessarily mean your teen is having thoughts of suicide. If you suspect substance use, nip the problem in the bud. Get expert help for you and your teen when you need it.

If you or your loved one are in a crisis and need help immediately, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433) any time, any day. Or go to www.suicide.org online. These 24-hour-a-day suicide prevention lifelines are free services, available to anyone. All calls are confidential.

Resources

It Gets Better Project Inc.
Help for young LGBT in crisis. 
www.itgetsbetter.org/

The Jed Foundation
Works to reduce emotional distress and prevent suicide among college students.
www.jedfoundation.org/

Preventing Suicide: A Toolkit for High Schools
http://store.samhsa.gov/product/Preventing-Suicide-A-Toolkit-for-High-Schools/SMA12-4669

By Paula Hartman Cohen
Source: Gabriela Cora, MD, MBA, psychiatrist, author, wellness coach, Miami, FL; William Shryer, DCSW, LCSW, Clinical Director, Diablo Behavioral Healthcare, Danville, CA; LeslieBeth Wish, EdD, MSS, psychologist, licensed clinical social worker, and Co-director of The Counseling Network of the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, Sarasota, FL, which offers free counseling for grief, post-traumatic stress and family and children needs for military families and veterans; Synopsis of Psychiatry by Benjamin J. Sadock, Virginia A. Sadock and Pedro Ruiz, MD, LWW, 11th edition, 2014.
Reviewed by Jenni Myers, LCSW, Director, Corporate Strategy, and Dale Seamans, Executive Editor, Thought Leadership, Beacon Health Options

Summary

  • Take all threats seriously.
  • Get immediate expert help.
  • Help you child build a strong foundation for mental health.

Take all mentions of suicide seriously, even if they are couched in humor. Even if a child is crying wolf, respond to it as a cry for help.

There is no guarantee you can bully-proof or suicide-proof your child, but there is much you can do. Most of all, you want your child to know he is loved today and will always be loved. At the same time, you want your teen to have good coping skills to help handle the storms of life, later on.

Here are a few things you can do to help your teen through tough times:

1. Be there. Be there physically as well as emotionally. Spend one-on-one time with your teen. Let your teen know you care by keeping the door open for serious talk. Find a project you can work on together.

2. Educate yourself on what your teen is going through. There are many parenting books and resources available to help you maneuver the minefields of adolescence. Don’t just depend on your own experience. Ask an expert when you don’t know what to do.

3. Take all threats seriously, and do what you can to help. If you don’t know where to turn, ask someone at the school or in the mental health community.

4. Encourage your teen to learn new things, get involved in many different activities, and meet new people. Psychologist LeslieBeth Wish explains that hobbies and activities are great, but do far more good than keep a teen busy. They help a young person learn new things about themselves, especially things they can be proud of. They need to try on as many new roles as they have time for, because each one gives them a chance to experience low levels of conflict and resolution, while they build competence and self-esteem. They need to build bigger and bigger teams of friends. This way, if something goes wrong in one arena of their life, they have a solid bank of other strengths (and people) to fall back on.

“Think of your life as a three-legged footstool. Once one of those legs topples, you will fall,” says Wish. “Your goal is to always have more than three legs under you.”

You want to be able to say to your daughter, yes you did not get an A in biology, but look at how well you did in art class. You may not see this friend again, but look at all the other people you have in your life who like you.

You never want one single loss or setback to make a child feel hopeless about the future.

5. Try to help your teen build a spiritual life, whether it be within organized religion or as a part of nature. Spirituality helps us find strength and guidance in a higher power, and learn about paths others have taken. Your teen needs to feel a part of something bigger than herself or her own problems. A spiritual life will help her learn more about herself and how she fits into the world around her.

6. Tap into mental health resources in your school or community. If your child is depressed, make sure he gets professional help. Keep in mind that a diagnosis of depression does not necessarily mean your teen is having thoughts of suicide. If you suspect substance use, nip the problem in the bud. Get expert help for you and your teen when you need it.

If you or your loved one are in a crisis and need help immediately, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433) any time, any day. Or go to www.suicide.org online. These 24-hour-a-day suicide prevention lifelines are free services, available to anyone. All calls are confidential.

Resources

It Gets Better Project Inc.
Help for young LGBT in crisis. 
www.itgetsbetter.org/

The Jed Foundation
Works to reduce emotional distress and prevent suicide among college students.
www.jedfoundation.org/

Preventing Suicide: A Toolkit for High Schools
http://store.samhsa.gov/product/Preventing-Suicide-A-Toolkit-for-High-Schools/SMA12-4669

By Paula Hartman Cohen
Source: Gabriela Cora, MD, MBA, psychiatrist, author, wellness coach, Miami, FL; William Shryer, DCSW, LCSW, Clinical Director, Diablo Behavioral Healthcare, Danville, CA; LeslieBeth Wish, EdD, MSS, psychologist, licensed clinical social worker, and Co-director of The Counseling Network of the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, Sarasota, FL, which offers free counseling for grief, post-traumatic stress and family and children needs for military families and veterans; Synopsis of Psychiatry by Benjamin J. Sadock, Virginia A. Sadock and Pedro Ruiz, MD, LWW, 11th edition, 2014.
Reviewed by Jenni Myers, LCSW, Director, Corporate Strategy, and Dale Seamans, Executive Editor, Thought Leadership, Beacon Health Options

Summary

  • Take all threats seriously.
  • Get immediate expert help.
  • Help you child build a strong foundation for mental health.

Take all mentions of suicide seriously, even if they are couched in humor. Even if a child is crying wolf, respond to it as a cry for help.

There is no guarantee you can bully-proof or suicide-proof your child, but there is much you can do. Most of all, you want your child to know he is loved today and will always be loved. At the same time, you want your teen to have good coping skills to help handle the storms of life, later on.

Here are a few things you can do to help your teen through tough times:

1. Be there. Be there physically as well as emotionally. Spend one-on-one time with your teen. Let your teen know you care by keeping the door open for serious talk. Find a project you can work on together.

2. Educate yourself on what your teen is going through. There are many parenting books and resources available to help you maneuver the minefields of adolescence. Don’t just depend on your own experience. Ask an expert when you don’t know what to do.

3. Take all threats seriously, and do what you can to help. If you don’t know where to turn, ask someone at the school or in the mental health community.

4. Encourage your teen to learn new things, get involved in many different activities, and meet new people. Psychologist LeslieBeth Wish explains that hobbies and activities are great, but do far more good than keep a teen busy. They help a young person learn new things about themselves, especially things they can be proud of. They need to try on as many new roles as they have time for, because each one gives them a chance to experience low levels of conflict and resolution, while they build competence and self-esteem. They need to build bigger and bigger teams of friends. This way, if something goes wrong in one arena of their life, they have a solid bank of other strengths (and people) to fall back on.

“Think of your life as a three-legged footstool. Once one of those legs topples, you will fall,” says Wish. “Your goal is to always have more than three legs under you.”

You want to be able to say to your daughter, yes you did not get an A in biology, but look at how well you did in art class. You may not see this friend again, but look at all the other people you have in your life who like you.

You never want one single loss or setback to make a child feel hopeless about the future.

5. Try to help your teen build a spiritual life, whether it be within organized religion or as a part of nature. Spirituality helps us find strength and guidance in a higher power, and learn about paths others have taken. Your teen needs to feel a part of something bigger than herself or her own problems. A spiritual life will help her learn more about herself and how she fits into the world around her.

6. Tap into mental health resources in your school or community. If your child is depressed, make sure he gets professional help. Keep in mind that a diagnosis of depression does not necessarily mean your teen is having thoughts of suicide. If you suspect substance use, nip the problem in the bud. Get expert help for you and your teen when you need it.

If you or your loved one are in a crisis and need help immediately, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433) any time, any day. Or go to www.suicide.org online. These 24-hour-a-day suicide prevention lifelines are free services, available to anyone. All calls are confidential.

Resources

It Gets Better Project Inc.
Help for young LGBT in crisis. 
www.itgetsbetter.org/

The Jed Foundation
Works to reduce emotional distress and prevent suicide among college students.
www.jedfoundation.org/

Preventing Suicide: A Toolkit for High Schools
http://store.samhsa.gov/product/Preventing-Suicide-A-Toolkit-for-High-Schools/SMA12-4669

By Paula Hartman Cohen
Source: Gabriela Cora, MD, MBA, psychiatrist, author, wellness coach, Miami, FL; William Shryer, DCSW, LCSW, Clinical Director, Diablo Behavioral Healthcare, Danville, CA; LeslieBeth Wish, EdD, MSS, psychologist, licensed clinical social worker, and Co-director of The Counseling Network of the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, Sarasota, FL, which offers free counseling for grief, post-traumatic stress and family and children needs for military families and veterans; Synopsis of Psychiatry by Benjamin J. Sadock, Virginia A. Sadock and Pedro Ruiz, MD, LWW, 11th edition, 2014.
Reviewed by Jenni Myers, LCSW, Director, Corporate Strategy, and Dale Seamans, Executive Editor, Thought Leadership, Beacon Health Options

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