Parents + Prevention: Your Active, Crucial Role in Teen Suicide Prevention

It’s a topic that many parents would prefer not to touch but we can no longer ignore suicide especially among teens. According to the Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC), suicide is the second leading cause of death among adolescents aged 15-19 years.

The good news is that parents can take an active role in preventing suicide among teens.

Here’s how you can play your part in teen suicide prevention:

1. Getting your facts right.

Arming yourself with correct information about suicide will give you the confidence you need to approach the topic with your teen. To feel empowered about helping your teen, you first need to separate the myths about suicide from the facts.

2. Knowing the red flags to watch for.

Recognizing the warning suicide signs to look out for in your teen can make the difference between losing your child and saving their life. You might recognize changes in their behavior both at school and at home, changes in what they talk about and in the company they keep. Don’t dismiss this as a cry for attention but do your best to find out if something else is going on.

3. Recognizing suicide risk factors.

Learn to identify certain situations or conditions closely associated with an increased risk of teen suicide. Some of the most common include confusion about sexual orientation or identity, feeling worthless, hopeless or guilty and access to lethal means e.g. guns or illegal drugs.

4. Being aware of protective factors.

Additionally, you need to recognize if there are any factors in your teen’s life that can lead them away from thoughts of suicide. For instance, does your teen have easy access to mental health services? Do they have a strong social network of supportive friends or family they can talk to?

5. Taking precautionary measures.

Recognizing suicide warning signs and risk factors doesn’t mean that all is lost. You can choose to be proactive and guard your teen. Start by being an active and interested participant in their life. Let them know how much you love and appreciate them and that they can come to you for help with whatever is going on in their lives. Additionally, it’s a good idea to limit their access to lethal means like alcohol, prescription pills or guns.

6. Talking to your teen about suicide.

This isn’t a conversation that most parents want to have with their teens but it’s an important one nonetheless. Look for situations that can provide an opening to discuss the issue like the suicidal death of a celebrity. Also, choose a time when both you and your teen are calm and able to pay attention to each other. In addition to conveying your love and support, encourage them to seek help if they’re facing any social, emotional or mental difficulties.

7. Seeking mental health services.

In spite of your best efforts and intentions, you might not have what it takes to help your teen. That is where mental health professionals come in. If you are worried about the warning signs and risk factors you recognize in your teen, finding a counselor, therapist or psychiatrist with experience in youth suicide might be the best thing to do. Alternatively, a stay at a residential treatment center that has experience helping suicidal teens might be just the thing to help your teen get back on their feet.

You and your teen don’t have to suffer alone. Help is available. Contact us today and speak with one of Liahona’s program advisors and see if we can help get your teen’s life back on track.

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