Suicide Prevention – What Parents Need to Know
By Francesca Mullins
With suicide being the second leading cause of death for children between the ages of 10 and 19 years old (Suicide: Risk and Protective Factors, 2015), every parent should know the signs and what to do about them if their child is struggling.
What can we do?
As parents we are always asking what we can do to help our children. The Centers for Disease Control has offered the following as great suggestions for prevention.
- Get professional help if your child has a mental, physical or substance abuse disorder.
- Create a support group of friends and family. Encourage your child to get involved in activities at school, church or in the community.
- Create medical and mental health care relationships. Be proactive and advocate for your child.
- Help your child develop skills in problem solving, conflict resolution, and nonviolent ways of handling disputes by being an active participant in his or her life. Create connection with your child by finding and participating in activities you both enjoy.
- Embrace cultural and religious beliefs that promote healthy avenues for self-preservation rather than suicide.
Connective parenting, which includes: love, teaching, and guidance will give children the best foundation for resiliency. As parents spend time connecting with their children, getting to know their struggles, hobbies, needs, and desires– warning signs of suicidal thoughts or habits will often become clear. Children do not become resilient all on their own. The struggles our children go through today are not the same struggles occurring 20 or 30 years ago, but they are very real and potentially more serious.
The following is a list of risk factors that can contribute to a child being suicidal, and a list of signs parents and caregivers can watch out for (Risk Factors and Warning Signs – AFSP, 2016
No one knows a child better than his or her parents. Look for these signs. As a parent pays attention, spends time and connects with the children these signs will be bright neon flags, they’ll be seen as cries for help, and action can be taken.
On average there are 117 suicides per day in the US (American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, 2016). Take a stand, make a change, be aware. Lower the number.
For more information on how to help your child become resilient, check out these other resources: Developing Strong Social Skills , 30 Days to a Stronger Child, Emotional Intelligence is Critical to Creating Stronger Kids, and Giving a Voice to Bullying Victims.
Francesca Mullins served as an intern for Educate and Empower Kids. She will graduate this winter from Brigham Young University-Idaho.
American Foundation For Suicide Prevention. (2016). Retrieved June 06, 2016, from https://afsp.org/
Risk Factors and Warning Signs – AFSP. (2016). Retrieved June 06, 2016, from https://afsp.org/about-suicide/risk-factors-and-warning-signs/
Suicide: Risk and Protective Factors – CDC. (2015, August 28). Retrieved June 06, 2016, from http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/suicide/riskprotectivefactors.html