23 Sep 3 Ways to Support Suicide Awareness and Prevention
The most effective method of suicide awareness and prevention is reducing stigma. Often, people assume that the only way to keep someone safe is to encourage them to “get help.” Getting help is only the first step. There are other strategies that can be used to support your teen struggling with suicidal thoughts before crisis intervention might occur. By shifting society’s focus to preventing suicide attempts rather than intervening in plans, it is possible that the statistics may start to decline. The light at the tunnel is easier to visualize if other people are willing to hold up flashlights.
The suicide rate has more than doubled in the past decade. According to The Center for Disease Control, suicide has become the third leading cause of death among young people aged 15 to 24; and the fourth leading cause of death for kids ages 10-14. Many people are aware that suicide is a growing issue. Celebrity suicides make the front page of the news and funerals draw large crowds. Where our society falls short in awareness is in recognizing warning signs that might lead to suicidal thoughts before concrete plans are ever materialized.
Early signs of suicidal ideation in teens might include:
- Isolating from others
- Loss of interest in hobbies or social activities
- Any changes in appetite or sleep patterns
- Difficulty coping with life transitions
- Making negative comments about their life
- Appearing emotionally detached
Recognizing Red Flags
More often than not, warning signs for suicidal thoughts are subtle and may occur over an extended period of time before they look like red flags. There is a fine line between yellow flags and red flags that may occur unpredictably or suddenly. While there may be other ways to try to connect with your teen showing warning signs of suicidal thoughts, it is important to identify risks for making plans if your teen appears to be on the edge.
Red flags for suicide may include:
- Feelings of hopelessness or being trapped
- Expressing feelings of being a burden to others
- Mood swings or angry outbursts
- Talking about wanting to die
- Engaging in other risky behaviors, like substance use or self-harm
Ways to Address Suicidal Thoughts in Teens
- Validate. Tell your teen that what they’re feeling is okay and that you believe them. While you may struggle to understand why they are feeling that way, it is important to recognize that these feelings are real for them and that they may not know either.
Helpful things to say might be:
- That sounds difficult.
- That makes sense that you might be feeling this way in this situation.
- I know that you are struggling right now.
- Appreciate. Whether they’ve approached you or they’ve been open when you have brought up concerns, speaking up can be challenging. Acknowledge the courage it takes to talk about suicidal thoughts and to show willingness to address issues they might be having. Affirm that you are proud of them for talking about things and that you are there to support them.
Examples might include:
- I am here for you if you want to talk about anything.
- You are not alone.
- Thank you for sharing your experience.
- Refer Them to Resources. Let them know that help is available and that you are there to support them. Suggesting alternative coping skills can be tricky, but inviting them to join you in doing something that you find useful can feel supportive. Connecting them to resources might look like recommending books or websites, looking for support groups in the area, or reaching out for professional help. Getting help is a collaborative process.
ViewPoint Center Can Help
ViewPoint Center is a short-term residential Crisis and Assessment Center for suicidal teenagers ages 12 to 17. Our students struggle with emotional and behavioral issues, such as depression, anxiety, conduct disorder, and substance abuse that puts them at a higher risk of suicidal ideation. ViewPoint teaches students to talk about suicidal ideation, reach out for support, use positive alternative coping skills and create realistic short-term goals to help them plan for healthy, productive lives.
Contact us at 855-290-9682. We can help your family today!