It’s a difficult topic to even think about, but unfortunately teen and child suicide is on the rise. You hear the stories on the news or read about them online, or maybe yourself or someone you know has been affected by such a traumatic loss. In many cases suicide can be prevented if the signs are recognized and intervention takes place right away.
Signs of trouble include:
- Drastic changes in personality
- Writing or speaking of suicide (even in a joking manner)
- Decline in grades at school
- Giving away important possessions
- Strong changes in eating or sleeping habits
- Rebellious or violent behaviour
- Panic, restlessness, agitated behaviour
- Sexual promiscuity
- Withdrawal from family, friends, or activities that were once enjoyed
A child or teen may be considering suicide for many reasons, but the most common include:
- Anxiety or any other mental health conditions
- Problems at school (low grades, bullying etc)
- Low self esteem
- Alcohol or drug abuse
- The belief no one cares
- A recent stressful event (a death, divorce etc)
Wondering how you can help? If you notice any of the warning signs it is important you step in quickly. Here are some steps you can take:
- Offer help and listen. Talk about the behaviours you’ve noticed and why you feel concerned. Be there for support and understanding. You don’t need to solve the problem, just listening and allowing your child to voice the issues can help.
- Talk about suicide seriously with your child. Talking about it won’t cause it to happen, but not talking can make your child feel more alone. Ask them if they have a plan or have thought about suicide, if they have, seek professional help immediately.
- Remove hazards from your home. This includes removing dangerous weapons (guns), lock up pills, keep tabs on kitchen utensils and ropes.
- Get professional help right away
- If it is clear to you that your child is planning suicide, don’t hesitate in taking them to the emergency room. You may not be able to handle the situation on your own, or wait for an appointment with a psychologist or counsellor.
If you are concerned about your child’s mental health you can find help and support through Childrens Mental Health Ontario by clicking here.