A Parent's Guide to Suicidal Thoughts

SUICIDE IN COLORADO IS AT AN ALL TIME HIGH

It is difficult to imagine anything more horrifying, tragic, or heartbreaking than suicide, especially by young people. Parents can feel lost, confused, and terrified when it comes to their kids experiencing suicidal ideation (thoughts of killing one's self). This phenomenon is only increasing in our culture; chiefly in our isolated, ever online world. If you speculate your child has some self destructive beliefs, what do you ask? How do you respond? This post is a brief guide to helping your loved one. 

SUICIDE STATISTICS: A SNAPSHOT

  • Suicide is the #1 cause of death for kids ages 10-14 years old. 
  • Suicide is the now 2nd leading cause of death for young people ages 15-24 year old. 
  • 7 out of 10 suicides are completed by white males.
  • Men complete suicide 4 times the rate of women, male suicides account for over 75% of completions. 
  • Colorado is 6th in the nation for number of suicides; increasing by 79% since year 2000. 
  • There is a contagious component of suicide, where a self inflicted death in the community is an increased risk factor. 
  • Over half of suicides by kids are completed with firearms. 

WHAT TO DO IF YOU SUSPECT SUICIDAL THOUGHTS

Suicide Prevention Littleton

Suicide is rare...

Suicidal thoughts are not. 

STEP 1: Recognize the signs by listening and observing.

WARNING SIGNS OF SUICIDE

  1. HOPELESSNESS: Not seeing a possibility of change, improvement, or future success; being in a deep state of despair. 

    • 50% of people who complete suicide suffer from depression. (The Overnight)

  2. PAIN: An overwhelming sense of distress and/or pain. 

    • Folks who suffer from chronic pain are twice as likely to complete suicide. (Psych. Today)

  3. BEHAVIOR CHANGE: Any sudden change in behavior or routine such as difficulty sleeping, extreme agitation or anger, and withdrawing from social connections (e.g. isolation).

  4. THREATS: Talking about suicide, writing about self harm, threatening suicide, or making a plan to end one's life.  

  5. SUBSTANCE USE:  Drinking alcohol, using marijuana, or taking illicit substances. 

    • 90% of teens who are sucidal have a substance use disorder. (Recovery Village)

    • Teens who consume cannabis (THC) daily are 7 times more likely to die by suicide. (Recovery Village)

STEP 2: TALK OPENLY ABOUT SUICIDE

  1. LOVE THEM: Kids need to hear over and over that you love them. Plus, actions speak louder than words; convey your love by talking with your kids, hanging out with them, and eating with them.

    • Isolation is a key risk factor in suicide. Loneliness increases your risk factor for an early death by 26%. (Time)
  2. BE OPEN - ASK THEM DIRECTLY ABOUT SUICIDE: Talking about suicide decreases the likelihood of attempts. Use DIRECT language and avoid less severe phrases such as 'hurting yourself.' Below are a few example questions:
    • "People who feel hopeless and are suffering from depression sometimes have suicidal thoughts... Are you thinking of killing yourself?" 
    • "You know, I never thought I would be talking with you about suicide and I'm nervous, but I think it is important..."
    • "Have your friends talked about suicide?" 
  3. EMPATHIZE (UNDERSTAND) WITH THEM. Validate and try to understand their perspective. Discuss and listen to reasons both for and for not living anymore. 
    • "That sounds like it must be painful." 
    • "I can imagine that was really tough. I remember feeling that way..." 
    • "I'm hearing one of the reasons that you're willing to stay alive so that you don't hurt your sister..."
  4. RESIST THE URGE: Everything in your body will want to scream "STOP!" "That's dumb." "How selfish," etc. It is important to keep a consistent, open form of communication. It is important your child has someone to talk to. In short, they need someone to walk in the darkness of their distress with them. 
  5. KEEP COMMUNICATING: Remember, keep connecting and talking. Stay in touch and keep in touch. Try and keep your communication positive (avoid criticism) and choose your battles wisely. 

STEP 3: BE PROACTIVE: SUICIDE PREVENTION

  1. EXPRESS CONCERN: Stay calm and let your kid know where you stand by expressing loving concern. Focus on their health and wellness and how important they are to you. 

    • Use "I" statements. Avoid using "shoulds," should nots," and "oughts." 
  2. MONITOR AND COMMUNICATE: It's so important to keep talking and watching. Monitor their Snap Chat, Instagram, Phone, etc. 
  3. MAKE A PLAN: What are you going to do? Who are you going to call? The best way to handle a crisis is to avoid one. 
  4. KEEP YOUR HOME SAFE: Limit access to firearms, alcohol, pills, etc. Essentially, make it really hard to kill yourself. 
  5. CONNECT WITH COMMUNITY: Stigma, shame, and pride increase isolation and suicidal risk factors. Reach out to your family, friends, church, etc. Inform teachers and coaches. Connect with mental health professionals.   

STEP 4: GET SUPPORT

  1. IN A CRISIS: Again, stay calm but act. 

    • Call 1-800-273-9255 (24/7): The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

    • Text 741741 (24/7) from anywhere in the US with a trained Crisis Counselor. 

    • Find a Colorado Crisis Center: http://coloradocrisisservices.org/

    • Get to an emergency room at your nearest hospital. 

    • Call 911 if you cannot get yourself or your child somewhere safe. 
  2. CONNECT WITH YOUR DOCTOR (E.G.  PRIMARY CARE PHYSICIAN or PEDIATRICIAN). 
    • Psychiatrists (MD), medical doctors (MD), or psychiatric nurse practitioners(e.g. PMHNP) can prescribe and administer medication. 
  3. PARTNER WITH A MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONAL
  4. STAY CONNECTED: Lean into your community, family, friends, church, etc. 

Littleton Life Coaching and Therapy

I believe we can choose life. A Life to the fullest.

My name is Scott Treas.
I am a husband, a father, a brother and a son. 
I provide life coaching and therapy to young people who are struggling with life's biggest challenges; addressing direction, meaning and purpose.
I am a licensed counselor and specifically trained in suicidal intervention (ASIST).
I've worked with young men for over 12 years and am passionate about helping guys untangle the hurt and confusion so they may live beautiful, exciting, and satisfying stoires.  

 

GET HELP NOW. CONNECT WITH ME TODAY. 
CALL 720-504-9933.