Even though suicide can be a difficult topic to discuss with kids, it is important that young people know they can talk to you about it. Kids Help Phone hears from many youth who don’t know who to turn to about a complex topic like suicide.
Sometimes kids are afraid to tell their parents what they are feeling. They might think that they will worry their parents, or feel that their parents are uncomfortable talking about certain issues.
But, suicide is something we should all talk about. It impacts communities everywhere, big and small, and doesn’t only affect people who are experiencing suicidal thoughts, but also their friends, families, and peers.
That’s why it’s important that parents talk to their kids about suicide. By showing a willingness to have those discussions without judgment, parents can set the course for maintaining and sustaining open, trusting relationships with their kids.
How can you open up the dialogue about a subject like suicide?
- Listen. Ask questions, and let you kid answer them. Listen to what they have to say, and let them ask questions, too. Show them that they can have an open, honest discussion with you.
You can start by asking, “do they talk about suicide or mental health at school?”. World Suicide Prevention Day takes place every year on September 10 and can also provide an opportunity for discussion. Ask your kid if the day is being discussed in class and how they feel about it.
Not that you need to wait for a specific day to start the conversation. Any time is a good time to open things up at home.
- Don’t judge or make assumptions. Avoid saying things that imply suicidal thoughts are “just a phase,” or that talking about suicide is something young people “do for attention.”
Suicide can affect anyone and is a serious concern. It is important that young people know they will be validated if they are experiencing suicidal thoughts, or are worried about a friend who is.
- Challenge stigma and misconceptions. There are many myths about suicide. One misconception, for example, is that a person who is talking about suicide is “just doing it for attention.” Talking about suicide is a major warning sign, but there is still hope, which is what young people are looking for when they reach out for help.
Find trusted resources that you and your child can read together to learn more about suicide and help challenge misconceptions.
- Don’t wait to start these conversations. It’s important to start talking with your kids before a problem arises. That way they’ll know they can come to if and when they need to.
For children up to the age of 12 visit Kids Help Phone HERE.
For teens, visit Kids Help Phone HERE.
Kids Help Phone also has more information on Suicide Prevention and Emotional Health.
Regardless of your child’s age, I strongly encourage you to encourage your child to share their feelings and questions from an early age. Try your hardest to remain neutral with your reactions, as you don’t want to discourage them from sharing with you in the future.
Have you broached the topic of Suicide with your child or teen yet? Do you have any tips to share?