When you think of children, you think of hope, the future, innocence, and love. The furthest thing on your mind would be the possibility of a child committing suicide, but maybe that mindset should change.
According to the CDC, “suicide is the third leading cause of death for youth between the ages of 10 and 24, and results in approximately 4,600 lives lost each year”. As we hear of more and more children taking their own lives before they even had a true opportunity to live, let’s discuss what we can do as adults to look for some warning signs in a potentially at risk kid. Your ability to recognize red flags may lead to saving a child’s life.
Pay Attention To Your Kids- Keep in mind that kids are people too who are trying to deal with their own complex emotions. After a long day, it can be a struggle to listen to your child’s incessant chatter, but like you, they need to feel heard and seek to be understood. You’d be surprised at what you can learn about their day, their thought processes and challenges they may be facing if you take some time to truly focus on them without distraction.
Watch For Signs- If feelings of worthlessness, anxiety, anger, withdrawal, substance abuse, sudden mood swings or thoughts of harming oneself are ever expressed verbally or written down, take it seriously and seek professional help immediately. Often times, the warning signs are there and go unnoticed or ignored. There are a number of prevention methods including crisis centers and hotlines, suicide awareness education, counseling and intervention methods available.
Don’t Be Dismissive- If your child has already tried to harm themselves, do not assume that they are experiencing a phase and will get over it. If they have already made life-threatening attempts, there is an increased risk of them committing suicide. Likewise, consider that young people’s reactions to stress and loss are not comparable to mature adults. Difficulty experienced in school, breakups, bullying or ended friendships are major life-altering events for kids and not all are able to handle such situations without being emotionally impacted.
If you or anyone you know is at risk or needs immediate help, please call 911, seek help from a mental health professional, or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).