What To Do

Responding effectively to a depressed and/or suicidal teen begins by abolishing one of the most harmful misconceptions about suicide: The fear that you’ll plant the idea if you raise the issue. Nothing could be further from the truth. By raising the issue, you will not push people into considering or attempting suicide. You will be demonstrating that you care.

What should you say to a young person who appears depressed or suicidal?

  • First, make available as soon as possible, some private time when the two of you can talk.
  • Begin by asking, “Is there something that is bothering you that you want to talk about? I’d be glad to listen.” A teen then might reveal something that has happened at home, at school or in a relationship.
  • You might then ask any of these questions: “How do you feel about that?” “How did that make you feel?” “Did that hurt your feelings?” “What are you feeling, right now, this very minute?”
  • Sincerely demonstrate that you are willing to listen patiently.
  • Don’t dismiss the problem, don’t get angry, don’t express disapproval, and don’t demand that your teen open up to you.
  • Don’t try to solve the problem or make the teen feel better.
  • Assure your teen that your love is as strong and as full as ever, and that the problem, no matter how awful it seems, can be worked out – and that you are willing to help.

Refer and Help Your Teen

What Parents Should Know

New US Center for Disease Control Report (2013)

Other Helpful Resources for Parents



Suicide Prevention Resources for Rhode Island Residents

Enter the name of your city or town for local resources.

Join our mailing list to receive periodic updates from Sams RI.