It’s one of the most uncomfortable conversations you can have with your teen, but it’s also one of the most important to have: suicide. There has been a lot in the news recently about suicide, and in recent years we’ve lost a lot of great entertainers who ended their lives much too early.
While it’s a hard subject to talk about with your teens, now that it’s Suicide Awareness Month, this could be a good time to speak with your kids about how they’re feeling, and if they’ve ever had suicidal thoughts.
Opening Up the Discussion Around Teen Suicide
There’s a stigma among suicide and people experiencing suicidal thoughts. Many people are afraid to get help because they don’t know how to ask for help. Just like many are trying to destroy the stigma around addiction, others are also trying to get rid of the stigma around suicide.
Dr. Renee Solomon, a clinical psychologist, says, “A lot of times people worry that if you talk about suicide, we’re going to make people do it. I find it’s the opposite. If you make it taboo, your kids will get the information another way…[Teens] need to know that they can talk to someone, and that it’s okay to talk about.”
While there has been a lot of awareness about suicide in the news with many celebrities recently taking their lives, the National Alliance on Mental Illness reports that over 40,000 regular people a year take their lives, and it’s the tenth leading cause of death in the United States.
Solomon continues, “Increasing awareness of these issues by putting them in the spotlight for a month is important and helps society see this as a real issue. People go through their day and don’t think about it, but if there’s this awareness, it might make them reach out, or it may create an avenue for people who are depressed to reach out and not feel alone.”
Accessing At Risk Teens
While it’s important to keep an open dialog with your teens, parents can’t spot every signal or sign that their kids are in trouble. It’s a good idea to get your teen to a therapist that can assess if they’re really in trouble. “Has the person attempted suicide before?” Solomon says. “Do they have the means or a plan? That affects the level of intervention There is help available; it’s just a matter of finding it.”
At the most basic level, it’s important to talk to your kids and get them help when they need it with the right doctor or therapist. Solomon also lists these important keys to keep in mind with the mental health of your teens:
Ask. Keep them Safe. Be there. Help them connect.
Keep the dialog open with your teens, make your home a safe place where they can discuss anything with you, and let them know there’s help if they need it. There is a strong world-wide effort right now to reduce the stigma around mental health problems and suicide, and reducing the stigma can start right at your home.