Most parents find it hard enough to talk to their teens about any topic, even when it’s regarding something as conversational as how they slept or what they had for lunch. So naturally, talking to teens about something as serious as depression or suicide can be daunting.
However, suicide is the second-leading cause of death among the ages of 10- to 24-year olds, and with so many people experiencing the same struggles, it’s time we started having conversations that will help with teen suicide prevention. Having open communication between parents and their teens can allow the teen to get the help they need and start their path toward healing.
When you aren’t sure how to verbalize thoughts, take into consideration these 5 tips when it comes to talking to your teen about depression and suicide:
1. Practice True Listening.
Listening is a learned skill, so don’t feel bad if it doesn’t come naturally. The best listeners don’t think about their response while the other person is talking. Instead, they truly listen to what the other person is saying, pause to formulate a response, or even reiterate what the person said to confirm understanding. Good listeners also use welcoming body language like turning toward the person and giving full eye contact.
2. Avoid Blaming or Shaming.
Once your teen has been able to express what’s going on with them, it is crucial that you avoid blaming or shaming them. Instead, validate their feelings. Let your teen know you care – be supportive and not judgemental.
3. Make a Treatment Plan with Your Teen.
Allow your teen to give feedback or propose other ideas on what they think could be helpful for their treatment of depression or suicidal thoughts. Ask if anything would make them feel uncomfortable and encourage them to continue to communicate their needs and desires throughout the treatment process. Don’t be afraid to ask them if they have thought about killing themselves. Talking to someone about suicide will not give the person the idea for suicide or cause them to attempt suicide. Ask if they have made a plan. Someone who has made a plan and has acquired the means to carry out their plan is at a higher risk for suicide. Do not leave the person alone. Get help immediately.
4. Learn About the Issue Together.
It’s important to become educated on depression and suicide once you’ve identified it as a problem with your teen. Take time to learn together about warning signs and risk factors. Make a list of questions to ask a doctor or therapist in relation to your child’s condition.
5. Provide Stability and Security.
In this tumultuous time, your teenager needs you more than ever. Fulfill your role as a parent by providing stability and security in their life. This means respecting their boundaries and privacy, always being a listening ear, and advocating for their best interests.
Contact Georgetown Behavioral Health Institute Today
If you’re looking for help with teen suicide prevention, Georgetown Behavioral can help. We offer extensive behavioral health services and mental health treatment programs for all types of patients. Learn more about our facilities near Austin, Texas and contact us today. If they need immediate help call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at any time 1-800-273-8255 or dial 911.