Suicide Prevention

Teen suicide cases have increased in recent years. It can be terrifying to hear about these cases and imagine your own teen taking his or her life. As a parent, it is important to learn factors that can put a teen at risk for suicide.

Never take a suicidal comment lightly.

Teens are naturally dramatic. They’re dealing with a lot of hormonal changes and a busy lifestyle. However, none of these factors should be considered reasons that a teen may make a statement about wanting to harm or kill him/herself. If your teen ever utters the words “I’ll just kill myself,” or something along those lines, he or she may not just be doing it for attention. Check in with him or her and let them know that those words are no joke. Try to listen and offer nonjudgmental support. These statements are often made as a cry for help. If they do mean it, seek behavioral help and/or crisis services immediately.

Encourage your teen to listen to his or her friends.

Just as you pay attention to your teen’s comments and behavior, they should be doing the same for their friends. Encourage your teen to let you or another adult know if any of his or her friends have mentioned having suicidal thoughts. It could mean the difference between life or death.

Do not wait to seek a mental health evaluation.

If you are concerned that your child may have depression, it is best to try not to let the symptoms worsen before seeking treatment. Most teens who commit suicide have a mental health diagnosis. If you notice a change in your teen’s mood or behavior, ask if they’d like to talk to you or someone else about it. And if you are concerned about their safety, it is best to ask them about their safety directly, such as asking them if they’re thinking of taking their own life.

Always provide empathy and support.

Remember to practice patience and keep an open dialogue with your teen, even on difficult days. When they feel your support, it will go a long way in keeping you in the loop and expressing how they feel.

When you and your teen know that help is needed, UPMC Children’s Community Pediatrics has Behavioral Health Specialists who will work with your family to formulate a plan.