parents and teacher

For Parents

Parents don't usually see it coming or never thought suicide would happen to them. To help a son or daughter who is in distress:

  • Get educated about suicide - who is at risk, what are the myths and facts and how can you help.
  • Watch for warning signs. Your child may not express their feelings, so look for things like mood swings, big changes in motivation and appearance, academic decline, and pulling away from friends or family. This can just be normal teenage behaviour, but might also signify more serious problems or mental health issues.
  • Specific circumstances can contribute to a teen's depression or thoughts of suicide, e.g. divorce, physical or sexual abuse, rejection by friends or a boyfriend/girlfriend, academic problems, confusion about sexual orientation, exposure to domestic violence, alcoholism, and substance abuse. Pay attention to what is going on in your teen's life.
  • Be supportive. If your teen talks about their feelings of despair, it's probably not just to get your attention. Take them seriously, talk to them.
  • Don't be judgmental. Reassure your teen that you love them, that no matter how awful the problems seem they can be worked out, and that you're there to help
  • Listen carefully and be patient. Help them find ways to lessen their pain, and see positive possibilities in their future. This might not happen all at once.
  • Be empathetic Your teen may lack the ability to cope with what seems like a major crisis to them. Try looking at the world from your teen's perspective, and offer your own; your child may not be able to see that the situation can change for the better, but you can.
  • Be proactive. In advance of a possible crisis, learn where to go for help, e.g. your family physician, professional counselling, or your teen's school.
  • Approach the subject of mental health openly with your teen. Don't be afraid to talk about depression and suicide. Ask if they've made prior suicide attempts. If you feel that your teen is at imminent risk, get help immediately - do not leave your teen alone.
  • Be understanding. Your teen might not be willing to confide in you. If your teen insists that "You just don't understand", it might be a good idea to suggest they talk to someone they trust e.g. other family members, a school counsellor, a coach, or a trusted doctor.