Suicide Prevention with Children

mother comforting teen daughter crying

Suicide is a growing public health concern. It is the second leading cause of death for people 10 to 34 years of age and the fourth leading cause among people 35 to 54 years of age.1 Each day in Tennessee, an average of three people dies by suicide. As of 2017, suicide is the second-leading cause of death for young people, ages 10-19 in Tennessee, with one person in this age group lost to suicide every week.4 It is important to understand that a suicide attempt is different than suicide ideation. A suicide ideation is defined by someone who is thinking about or considers suicide.

Parents, it is important to trust your instincts. If you believe that your child or a loved one could be struggling with mental health issues or suicide ideation, act on that. It would be better to offer help than to ignore your instincts. You should never ignore threats or statements given by your children as dramatic or a phase. Many times, these statements can be a cry for help and should be taken seriously. 

Studies have shown that children who are experience three or more of the following risk factors are at a higher risk for considering suicide2

  • Major loss (i.e., break up or death)
  • Substance use
  • Peer or social pressure
  • Access to weapons
  • Public humiliation
  • Severe chronic pain
  • Chronic medical condition
  • Impulsiveness/aggressiveness
  • Family history of suicide

It is important to know about the things that may trigger or add additional stress to your child. Here are a few more tips to help support your children during a difficult time:

  • Talk with your child about your own feelings. Explaining to your child that he or she is not alone and that everyone experiences struggles at some point in their life, can really make a big difference. 
  • Seek professional help right away. Reach out to a mental health provider in your area. 
  • Model healthy habits by taking care of your own mental health and showing your child various ways to approaching life’s problems.
  • Routinely hosting family check-ins could help with building communication. This includes letting them know that you will always be there for them even if they don’t feel like talking at that moment.
  • Remember to keep all guns at home stored safely and secure away from your children. 

Supporting loved ones with who may be experiencing mental health issues can be tough. Remember to seek out professional help for additional resources and support. Please visit the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network here for more information. Call the statewide crisis line 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year at 855-CRISIS-1 (1-855-274-7471) if you think your child is experiencing a mental health crisis.