Talk With Your Teen

What does your suicidal child need most? They need to feel connected and they need you to listen.

Experts at all levels agree that young peoples’ suicide attempts and associated depression are not just a harmless bid for attention. They are expressions of distress that need to be addressed. All suicidal threats or hints therefore should be taken seriously. Adults can help prevent suicide by fostering open, honest communication with teens.

  • If your child trusts you enough to come to you with a problem, take time to listen immediately.
  • What can’t be emphasized enough is that what a suicidal person most needs is to be listened to, not lectured or advised.
  • Don’t say, “I know just what you’re going through,” or “Here’s what you have to do.”
  • Instead say, “I care. Please tell me more.”  “Is there something that is bothering you that you want to talk about?”
  • You could also ask: “How do you feel about that?” “How did that make you feel?” “Did that hurt your feelings?”  “I’d be glad to listen.”
  • And then listen. Listen with all of your heart.
  • What a depressed or suicidal young person most wants and needs is to feel safe with you, to know that you can be trusted, to know that you care.

They want someone who will let them be themselves, someone who won’t express disapproval of anything they might say, someone who will be patient, someone who will say “I care,” and who shows it not by talking, but by listening.

You can teach your child to cope.

Assure the person 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  you are willing to help. Then seek professional assistance. Referrals can be made through pediatricians, school counseling and health programs, community mental-health agencies and hospitals, the RI Department of Health, the RI Department of Education and on the Resource Links found on The Samaritans of RI website.

Suicide Prevention Resources for Rhode Island Residents

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