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KVC Hospitals

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How to Talk with Teenagers about Suicide

Suicide is a growing problem in Kansas and throughout the Midwest region. Approximately 500 individuals die by suicide each year in Kansas, where according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), suicide is the second leading cause of death for individuals 15 to 44 years of age.

Warning signs for suicidal thoughts are often overlooked during teenage years and believed to be typical adolescent mood changes and irritability, but research has shown that suicidal youth often display warning signs such as changes in social interaction, appearance, appetite, sleep patterns, work and school attendance, loss of interest in activities and meaningful belongings, obsession with death and/or making suicidal threats. If you witness these signs in your child or any child, take steps to get support from a qualified professional.

The qualified professional will want to know:

1. Does the child have a plan to die by suicide?
2. Does the child have access to harmful means to harm him/herself?
3. Does the child have intent to end his/her life?

The treatment process may seem overwhelming at first, but professionals will be there to support you and your family along the way. Remember that recovery is possible with effective treatment. Over eighty-percent of individuals who seek treatment for depression and suicidality are treated successfully according to Suicide Awareness and Voices of Education (SAVE.org).

Don’t be afraid to talk about your child’s feelings, thoughts and behaviors. Tell your child, “I want you to live.” Most importantly, be there during this critical time for your child. Know what responsibilities you can set aside to focus on your child and family during the recovery process. Finally remember these important words from Ralph Waldo Emerson, “When it is darkest, we can see the stars.”

If you know a child or young adult struggling with depression or experiencing thoughts of self-harm, you can contact us at 1-866-KVC-CARES (582-2273), or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8225).

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