Mental Health

Parents and Suicide

It is important for parents to recognize changes in their child’s behavior that may indicate that something is wrong. It is not always easy to determine between the usual ups and downs of adolescent behavior and signs of something more serious.

People end their lives annually.

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  • Parents and Suicide

    Suicide is the second leading cause of death for those ages 15-24 in the United States, and is the second leading cause of death for this age group in South Dakota, second only to accidents. In 2016, there were 5,723 youth ages 15-24 that died by suicide in the United States. While these numbers may not seem large, even one death by suicide is too many.

    Although youth suicide is relatively rare, thoughts of suicide are not. Data from South Dakota youth from the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) indicate that 17.7% of high school youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past 12 months, 14.6% made a plan for attempting suicide, and 8.6% had attempted suicide one or more times in the 12 month period before the survey.

    It is important for parents to recognize changes in their child’s behavior that may indicate that something is wrong. It is not always easy to determine between the usual ups and downs of adolescent behavior and signs of something more serious. In addition, youth may be reluctant to discuss their feelings. One important step that parents can take is to be aware of the risk factors and warning signs that a child might be at risk for suicide. Warning signs include:

    Feelings

                                                  

    Hopeless
    Helpless
    Trapped
    Fear of losing control
    Worthless
    Anxious
    Angry

    Actions

    Resklessness; doing risky or dangerous things
    Use of drugs or alcohol
    Getting into fights or arguments
    Talking or writing about death
    Changes in eating behaviors
    Changes in sleep
    Withdrawal from friends or activities

    Statements

                                                                           

    “I won’t be around much longer.”
    “Pretty soon you won’t have to worry about me.”
    “It’ll all be over soon.”
    “I wish I was dead.”
    “Nothing matters anymore.”

    Situations

    Recess losses of any kind; relationship, financial, family
    Life changes that seem overwhelming
    Getting into legal trouble or trouble at school
    Experiencing death of a friend or relative, especially by suicide

    Risk Factors

    for suicide can include: mental health concerns such as mood disorders or depression, family history of suicide, previous suicide attempt, history of drug and alcohol use, isolation, impulsiveness or low self esteem.

    Protective Factors

    include connections to family and to school, feelings of self worth, academic achievement, limited access to means, enhanced coping abilities or problem solving skills.

    For Parents: Important Things to Remember

    For an overview and guide on how to respond if your child is depressed or suicidal, including how to talk to him/her, questions to ask teachers and friends and what to do visit the Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide (SPTS) website.

    Facts for Families: Children’s Threats – When Are They Serious?

    For a guide on responding to children who are potentially suicidal, what to say, what threats should be taken seriously and what parents should do if they are concerned visit the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) website.

    Protecting Your Child’s Mental Health: What Can Parents Do?

    The Jed Foundation has compiled important tips for parents with children transitioning into or attending college in terms of understanding your child’s personality and the proper “fit” with the college, understanding the available mental health services and identifying your child’s personal, emotional, medical and other needs.

    Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC) has new resource sheets that contain annotated lists of key suicide prevention organizations, websites and materials for parents (as well as teens and survivors of suicide loss). They can be found on their website at  http://www.sprc.org/basics/roles-suicide-prevention

    13 Reasons Why Toolkit

    Chances are you’ve either heard of Netflix’s series 13 Reasons Why, or your teen has expressed an interest in watching this.  For a toolkit to learn more about this series, please visit https://www.13reasonswhytoolkit.org/