According to the CDC, Suicide is the SECOND leading cause of death for ages 10-34. (2017 CDC WISQARS). Which means it’s very likely you may be a teen, or know a teen, considering completing suicide.
Here are 5 ways anyone can help suicidal teens:
If you’re worried or concerned someone may be suicidal- ask them- and use the words death, dying and suicide. Being clear is kind here. If someone is considering killing themselves, you’re not going to give them the idea- it’s already there. And usually people who are so overwhelmed and depressed they are contemplating suicide don’t know who they can talk to or where they can get help. They often feel really ashamed about the fact they’re suicidal- and they worry you’ll think they’re crazy. They may also be scared. So taking the step to ask can be really really beneficial in just opening the door and having the conversation.
Keep them safe
If there are guns or weapons in the home- make sure they are secure or removed. If you know they self-injury, ask them to turn over their tools - of if you’re a parent do a room search. Is it awkward and uncomfortable to do these things- yes! But this is about immediate safety. And if they’ve already starting to take action, or have a realistic plan to take action - get professional emergency help. I have a video with national helplines in the US listed here, but remember there are usually state-specific crisis lines- like 211 in Connecticut, and there’s always 911 if there’s a medical emergency.
You can make yourself physically and emotionally available. Let them know you are a safe person to speak with. When someone is suicidal, they may say really mean things or act in hurtful ways that make it easy to create distance between themselves and their friends or family. This is not the time to pull away. Now while I think it is important to be there with them, that doesn’t mean you can’t also set limits. If someone is verbally, physically, sexually, emotionally, or financially hurting you - you can still be there by setting limits to keep yourself safe while also providing them other resources like the helplines I mentioned earlier.
Help them connect
As a friend or family member, there is only so much you can do to support suicidal teens. Make sure they are connected to professional help like a teen therapist. In some cases, medication can help so you’d want to help them get connected to a psychiatrist or psychiatric APRN who has specialized training in working with adolescents. If you’re not sure where to get this information, your school’s social worker, or support staff, is usually a good place to start.
I cannot stress how important this is! It’s easy to think that once you addressed the concern that that’s it. However, it’s very likely these thoughts will resurface from time to time as the person heals. It’s kind of like if you break your arm- it hurts A LOT at first, but then when it’s in the cast safe and protected it can be easy to forget the pain. When the cast comes off, and you start to move your arm again- it can feel really uncomfortable- maybe not as much at first, but you still want to move with care until you’re fully healed. And there’s usually a follow-up scheduled with your provider to check in and make sure everything is progressing nicely. Reach out from time to time to check in and remind them you still care about them and their life.
If you are considering killing yourself, or experiencing thoughts or urges to complete suicide, there is help! Talking helps.
CRISIS TEXT LINE: text anything to 741741
NATIONAL SUICIDE PREVENTION LIFELINE (US): call 1-800-273-8255
TREVOR PROJECT LIFELINE (LGBTQ+ youth): call 1-866-488-7386
DEPRESSION HOPELINE: call 1-800-784-2433
NATIONAL SEXUAL ASSAULT HOTLINE: call 1-800-656-4673
SUBSTANCE ABUSE HELPLINE: call 1-800-662-4357
DOMESTIC ABUSE HOTLINE: call 1-800-799-7233
OPTION LINE (pregnancy, abortion, and post-abortion): text "HELPLINE" to 313131
Want to connect with other teens who “get it”? Teen Girls Therapy Group is a weekly space where your teen girl can connect with others dealing with anxiety, depression, or low self-esteem. By talking and learning together, they learn to feel better about the relationships they have with themselves and others.
Apply for a spot now by calling 203-228-8971 or completing this form.