Talking about suicidal behavior can be challenging for parents of teens who struggle. You might think that your child is seeking attention or trying to get a reaction. You might believe that they are just being dramatic, and you dismiss these behaviors, assuming that this is nothing serious.
You do not want to be wrong about suicidal behaviors. You need to take suicidal threats seriously every time. Your child might be in immediate danger. Something dire is going wrong with them. When a teenager thinks that suicide is an option, something deeper is going on below the surface.
Get Help Immediately
If you notice suicidal behaviors or your child threatens suicide, call for help immediately. Call 911 and get your child into the hospital to keep them safe. Your child might be posting suicidal feelings on social media, journaling about killing themselves, or yelled out in an argument, “I’m going to kill myself!”
You will need professional support to assess these threats and behaviors. A hospital social worker can help keep your child safe while guiding you on the next steps in their recovery.
Even if your child is deemed safe from imminent harm after an evaluation, just threatening suicide means that something serious must be addressed. Otherwise, your child might continue to believe that suicide is an option for their problems.
As parents, you want to get your kid the support they need to deal with their struggles. If they do not get to the root of these feelings, they might always believe that suicide is a way out when things get really tough.
Suicide Is Always a Cry For Help
Some parents might dismiss suicide as just a cry for help. However, a cry for help from such a desperate place is incredibly concerning. Suicidal behavior is always a cry for help, which is why you need to get that help immediately.
Not every suicidal threat or behavior means that your teenager will act on these feelings. However, even if their life is not in immediate danger, the cry for help must be acknowledged.
Suicidal behaviors can occur for several reasons. No direct cause and effect will always hold up. Your child might be a great student, and then they get an F, and suddenly their self-concept shatters. Your kid might be bullied at school or had a fight with a friend. There is no one path to suicide.
You might feel uncomfortable with the seriousness of talking to your child about suicide. You may also worry that talking about suicide will validate it and eventually lead to more thoughts about suicide. The only way to understand what your child is feeling is to get into the dark place with your child.
Understanding Suicide: Get Into the Darkness
Getting into the darkness with your child can be challenging and heartbreaking. No parent wants to hear their child talk about harming themselves or ending their own lives. But if your child is dealing with suicidal ideations, you might need to ask the tough questions to understand the feelings driving these behaviors.
Again, getting professional help at this time is critical. Social workers and therapists can give you more tips on how to help your child with this crisis.
To get into that darkness with your kid, you cannot simply pretend the problem will go away on its own. You need to ask questions like:
- Are you venting, or do you have a plan to kill yourself?
- Even if your child appears to have made a threat of suicide out of anger, you should still take this seriously.
- You want to understand the emotions of why they felt that way in that moment.
- Ask what made them so angry or upset.
- If they have a plan, what is it?
- If they have a detailed plan, including a specific date and methods of carrying out suicide, your child has thought this through a lot.
- You might need to search their room for methods of committing suicide. Your child might have collected pills, knives, rope, or even a gun that they are planning to use.
- Keep in mind any significant dates or anniversaries of trauma. For example, if your child lost a cherished friend or loved one, the anniversary of their death might trigger their trauma and increase their suicidal feelings.
- What is making you feel this way?
- Ask about what is happening in their lives.
- Are they dealing with issues at home? School? With a friend?
- The more you know about what is happening, the better you will be able to help your child through this crisis.
Talking to your child about their thoughts of suicide can be challenging. Make sure that you are caring for yourself during this difficult time. Reach out to others for support so you can best support your child during this challenging time.
Suicidal ideations and behaviors are always a cry for help. If your child is making suicidal threats, writing about suicide, or expressing that they wish they were dead, they need immediate support. When a child or teen thinks that suicide is an option to deal with their issues, you need to get help right away. Call 911 and have them seen by a hospital social worker. Professionals can evaluate the imminent harm your child is in regarding their suicidal ideations. If your child is struggling with suicidal thoughts, they might need additional support to deal with underlying issues. Fire Mountain Residential Treatment Center of Estes Park, Colorado, is here to help kids who struggle. We offer therapeutic support and activities to help your child develop healthy coping skills as they grow into young adulthood. For more information about our programs, call us today at (303) 443-3343. We’re here to help your family’s fire burn brightest.