How to Help with Suicide Prevention
by Tina Koeppel, M.S.
Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC 6029)
Suicide prevention is an issue I’m passionate about – both professionally, as a therapist, and personally, as suicide has touched the lives of my loved ones.
I’m so encouraged by recent progress in breaking down stigma, encouraging open conversations about mental health and suicide, and increasing access to life-saving resources. At the same time, I know that there is more we can all do. By educating ourselves and connecting with one another honestly and openly, we can help those who are suffering see that this is not the end of their stories.
Statistics show that suicidal thoughts can affect anyone regardless of age, gender, or background.
As a parent or caring adult, what can you do?
- Create an atmosphere of non-judgmental communication. Let your children know you care about them and are available to talk no matter what comes up for them.
- Know the warning signs.These include, but are not limited to, depression, hopeless comments, preoccupation with death, irritability or aggressiveness, dramatic shifts in behavior, and recent or upcoming loss. (See the resources below for more information about signs and symptoms.)
- Ask directly. It’s a myth that asking about suicide causes suicidal behavior. Instead, it shows you care, want to know what’s going on, and take their feelings seriously.
- Have concerns that your child may be experiencing suicidal thoughts? Seek out mental health treatment. The Institute has research-based treatment options for those struggling with suicidal thoughts, such as our Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) program. Several of our clinicians utilize the Collaborative Assessment and Management of Suicide (CAMS) framework, a research-based method to assess and treat suicidality. If your child or teen is experiencing an immediate suicidal crisis, however, call 911 or take your child to your local emergency room.