How to Be Vigilant about Suicide Prevention

Lisa SchumacherArticles

Website-Suicide Prevention
How to Be Vigilant about Suicide Prevention

Hope4Utah Newsletter

The COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted the mental health of children and teenagers. Many still struggle with depression even though some parts of life are back to “normal.” As a parent, knowing how to recognize the signs of suicide and knowing what to do is critical to suicide prevention.

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What to Watch For

Students who are more at risk for suicide include those who have experienced the following:

  • Previous suicide attempts
  • Family members who have attempted or died by suicide
  • Mental illness or family members who have a mental illness
  • More isolation (e.g., isn’t able to return to in-person classes for whatever reason)
  • Drugs or alcohol
  • Struggles in school (e.g., drastic drop in performance, lower motivation or level of interest)
  • Identifies as LGBTQ+
  • Family stressors such as parent divorce or job loss
  • Is a victim of bullying or cyberbullying

Other signs of suicide to watch for include the following:

  • Language such as, “I feel like a burden,” or “I wish I were dead”
  • Sudden improvement of mood after being depressed or withdrawn
  • Change in hygiene habits
  • Giving away prized possessions or looking for access to lethal means/making a plan.
  • Decreased interest or energy level
  • Drastic change in personality or irritability level
  • Increased absences in school or dropping out of school
  • Using substances such as alcohol or drugs.
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What to Say

  • Ask. Use “I” statements to ask how your children are doing. For example, “I noticed you seem to be in your room a lot instead of out with your friends like you usually are. Are you okay?”
  • Listen. Let your children vent and let their feelings out. Maintain good eye contact and put away all distractions and judgement while you listen.
  • Reframe. Summarize and repeat back what they told you. Ask them to expand on their feelings.
  • Work together to brainstorm solutions. Let your children know that you are there to help them. If needed, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) or a mental health professional for additional help.
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