In my last blog post, I talked about the increasing suicide rate among children and adolescents. It is not a cheerful subject, but a subject we need to address head on because the numbers of suicides can be reduced if we pay more attention to the warning signs, and then, of course, get our children the help they need.
According to the website of The American Psychological Association, there is an important list of warning signs we should all learn:
- Physical changes in appearance or hygiene
- Increase in alcohol or drug use
- Sudden drop in grades
- Talking about suicide or preoccupation with death
- Risky or reckless behavior
- Self-harm such as cutting
- Talking about feeling hopeless or having nothing to live for
- Researching suicide methods and/or acquiring weapons
As parents, teachers, friends, and relatives of young people, let’s listen to their thoughts and validate their concerns. Let us make sure the children know we care about their problems. Let us spend significant amounts of quality time with our children, and encourage them to spend time with their friends. Encourage conversation (not always the easiest thing to do with kids), and be compassionate about the problems or challenges a child may verbalize. If you have any concerns at all that there is a problem with your child/student/friend, trust your own judgement. If you suspect a problem, it is much better to overreact than not to react at all. And if you suspect even the slightest possibility of suicidal ideation, remove all weapons from the home, and do not leave the child alone. Immediately consult a mental health professional.
It is just heartbreaking to think that a young, beautiful human being, who should have so much hope for the future, could be so sad, so depressed, or so uncomfortable with their experience with life that this child would feel that death is better than all the possibilities that life has to offer. Children need to know that their problems are solvable. There is hope for a better future, and you, the adult, must hear their voices and support their road forward.
Society for the Prevention of Suicide
National Alliance on Mental Illness
3 thoughts on “Pay Attention to the Warning Signs”
Thank you Susan, for your support. I am trying to make some kind of a small difference in this area of our world.
Terrific posting…wish more emphasis was placed on concrete signs like you describe than the amorphous assessments usually described in the media. You rock! Susan
Sent from my iPad Susan Swartz email@example.com 205-907-1215
Another excellent musing and so beautifully written as well! Thx for sharing, Shelley
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