This can be a very touch subject that no parent ever wants to go through, but sometimes it’s something that can’t be ignored. This can be an incredibly uncomfortable topic for most people, especially for those who’ve lost someone special through it, but your own loved one may have these thoughts and talking to them can be very helpful.
The reality of teen suicide can be staggering and there are many factors leading up to a teen committing the act. Before you talk to your teen, you should know:
- Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for children between the ages of 10-24.
- 77.9% of all suicides are male
- Teen girls attempt suicide 3 times as often as teen boys
- Guns are used in 51% of male teenager suicides
- LGBT youth are 3 times as likely to attempt suicide than heterosexual teens
- 1,668 teens (ages 13-18) committed suicide in 2014
When Should You Talk To Your Teen About Suicide
There are clear times when you should talk to your teen about suicide, such as when you find them engaging in self-harm. But there are other times you should be addressing the topic as well.
- Large life changes – When teens experience large and unhappy shifts in their lives (death of a loved one, parental divorce, break up), they may struggle to express their feelings and instead bottle up all their painful emotions.
- Mental illness – Most teens who struggle with both mental illness and suicide idealization will not receive specialized mental health care. Those who deal with mood disorders like anxiety, bipolar, schizophrenia are among the high-risk factors of suicide.
- Substance abuse – 53% of teens who commit suicide abused alcohol, and 34.8% of teenage girls use drugs to commit suicide. If your teen is abusing substances, it should be a clear warning sign to you.
How To Open A Conversation On Suicide
Whether your teen is struggling with one of the above issues or outwardly fine, you should find a way to creatively have a discussion about this touchy subject of suicide. I understand it can be a difficult conversation to initiate, so I wanted to share how I’ve talked to my own children about it.
- Utilize media – My oldest son asked my permission to watch “13 Reasons Why” and I allowed it on the condition we watch it together. At the end of an episode, we would discuss what happened from the funny (explaining cassette tapes) to how hurtful gossip can be. With the series being renewed, we plan on continuing our watching and discussion pattern.
- Talk one-on-one – If any of your children are struggling or you feel they could potentially have suicidal thoughts, it is unlikely they want to talk openly in front of others. I like to make sure I spend quality one-on-one time with each of my children regularly so we can talk about anything they would prefer not to air in front of the rest of the family.
- Just ask – Sometimes there is no fancy way to bring up such a touchy subject, but you should always ask if you think your child is going through a very difficult time. Talking and letting them know you understand can go a long way.
There is never an easy way to discuss the topic of suicide, but as parents, talking about it can be a key part in preventing teen suicide.