If you suspect that your teen might be depressed or contemplating suicide then you need to act right away. Here is a quick list of things to look for:
- Always take seriously any mention or discussion of death, dying, suicide, self destruction or other evidence of morbid thinking that your teenager may manifest
- Talk to your teen, listen, don’t lecture, express love and reassurance, and realize that suicidal ideation and depression are usually temporary and treatable states but probably need immediate professional intervention.
- If you are worried that your teenager may be contemplating suicide, remove any weapons, pills, or other objects of substances in the house to which he or she may have access to achieving the act.
- Get professional help immediately. Remember that depression is almost always indicated in suicidal teenagers and that a combination of “talk therapy” and medication can turn things around.
- Get the numbers and/or websites of suicide hotlines both to report any fears or concerns you may have and to learn more about the likelihood of your teen carrying through any suicide attempt if you remain unsure.
- Note changes in behavior mentioned previously (including dressing in black) and take them seriously. Engage your teen in conversation about what’s going on with him or her in his or her life and what he or she intends by the changes in dress or behavior you have noticed.
- Don’t Judge. Family supportiveness is crucial. The point is always to get your teen to talk, not to lecture or try to persuade him or her out of feelings.
- Be especially alert if your family has had a history of suicide or suicide attempts.
- Understand that in a minority of cases, if the depression or other underlying reasons for your teen’s suicidal thoughts and/or behavior indicate it, your teen may need hospitalization and a combination of therapy and medication.
- The most important thing you can do if you think your child is suicidal is to explore the situation openly. If your child states that he has suicidal ideas or intentions or plans then an immediate mental health evaluation is necessary. Go to the nearest hospital emergency room or mental health crisis unit.
Check my February blogs on Suicide for more information, and certainly feel free to contact me.
Information contained in this blog is intended for educational purposes only. It is not intended as medical or psychiatric advice for individual conditions or treatment and does not substitute for a medical or psychiatric examination. A psychiatrist must make a determination about any treatment or prescription. Dr. Paul does not assume any responsibility or risk for the use of any information contained within this blog.