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Talking to Your Teen: Suicide Prevention for Teens

girl sitting and talking to her mom about Suicide prevention for teens

It is challenging for parents of teens to know what their kids are thinking about and feeling, what is stressing them out, and what might be pushing them toward thoughts of hurting themselves. After all, when do the normal ups and downs experienced during the teenage years become something to worry about? If you are concerned that your child is struggling and would like to learn about suicide prevention for teens, contact us online or call 888.291.2309 today to learn how our treatment programs can help.

Suicide Prevention for Teens

As with every relationship, communication is key. While this may be more difficult and nuanced during the teen years, teen suicide prevention depends on talking, listening, and being in tune with your teenager. Some of the trauma, stress, and struggles may be evident and known to you, but other issues may not be. Here are tips for talking to your child with the goal of suicide prevention in teens.

Tune In to Your Teen

They may be having a bad day and nothing more, but when signs of mental health issues persist for weeks at a time, it is time to stop assuming things will blow over and get better on their own. The vast majority of teens who have taken their own lives were struggling with treatable mental health disorders, such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Bipolar disorder
  • PTSD

Of course, teens who have not yet been diagnosed with a mental health disorder may still be at risk. Therefore suicide prevention in teens is still a paramount concern for concerned adults and parents. Being in tune with your teenager is crucial to catching issues before they become dangerous. In part, this is because it can be hard to pinpoint mental health issues at early ages. In most cases, teens will provide clues and show signs that they are considering hurting themselves and attempting suicide. Your goal should be to remain calm, alert, and at the ready to speak with your teenager about the stress, trauma, and troubles they are experiencing today, as well as any scars they are carrying with them from the past. Being in tune means that you are proactively aware and not simply waiting for them to come to you for help.

Listen to Your Teen

One of the most important parts of talking is listening. This is not only important when your teen does talk but also when they are being silent. If you attempt to discuss topics surrounding suicide prevention, teens may very well shut down and run away. Even if your teen stays silent at first, their actions may speak loud enough for you to hear and react to.

Teen suicide prevention can be accomplished by watching for significant changes in your child’s:

  • Sleeping habits
  • Appetite
  • Social activities
  • Friendships

For example, a sudden desire to be alone, especially for teens who usually like to be with friends or play team sports, can be a red flag that something is wrong. Additionally, if your teen is struggling with their schoolwork, test scores, chores at home, their job, or other responsibilities, one of our compassionate, professional treatment programs may be able to help your teen heal, cope, and recover.

Have Empathy for Teens Struggling with Suicidal Thoughts

Sure, there can be drama during the teen years but have empathy when what your teen is going through. Do not assume your child is exaggerating or being dramatic if they say or write things such as:

  • “I want to die”
  • “I don’t care anymore”
  • “Nothing matters”
  • “What’s the point of anything”
  • “I wonder how many people would come to my funeral?”
  • “The world would be better off without me”
  • “You won’t have to worry about me much longer”

Many teens who will eventually attempt suicide will actually tell their parents ahead of time. If they drop such verbal clues, do not hesitate to seek our help. You cannot risk being wrong or writing it off as a phase or teenage drama. Take every statement your teen makes seriously for teen suicide prevention.

Respond with Understanding

Suicide prevention for teens can be life-saving. When you respond to the things your teen will say or write, do so with understanding even though you may feel shocked, hurt, or angry. Focus on your teen’s needs to create a safe space in which they will be able to trust you and that you will carefully listen and express concern without judgment or blame. Your goal is teen suicide prevention, so an understanding tone can be the difference between your teen accepting professional help they deserve and running away from the care they need.

Your gut instinct may be to respond by saying something like:

  • “That’s ridiculous”
  • “You have a great life—why would you end it?”
  • “You don’t mean that”
  • “I can’t believe what I’m hearing!”

Instead, use language that exudes understanding, patience, and love:

  • “It sounds like you are really suffering”
  • “I understand that you cannot see a way out right now”
  • “You are probably not sure how to solve the problems you are facing”
  • “You must be really hurting inside to consider ending your life”
  • “I love you”
  • “We can find the answers together”

The Imagine Fort Collins treatment programs are designed especially for teens. Our caring team of medical experts works with teens every day to help them recover from mental health disorders, heal from substance abuse, and prevent suicide.

Learn More at Imagine Fort Collins

If you believe that your teen is in danger of harming themselves, contact Imagine Fort Collins today using our secure online form or call us at 888.291.2309.