Children and teens can often struggle with emotional pain. Emotional pain can feel devastating and can vary by person, but commonly includes thoughts of not feeling “good enough”, sadness, anger, shame, guilt, and anxiety. When youth are experiencing emotional pain, it can make it difficult to enjoy life and can lead to depression, thoughts of self -harm or suicide.
Each year, 44,193 Americans die by suicide. Even in our community, we are not immune to this tragedy that is happening across the United States. In the Kanas City metro area, severe emotional pain and youth suicide are common. The state of Missouri ranks 17th in the country for the most deaths caused by suicide, with Kansas being ranked 19th. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for youth ages 15-24. In a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey, 17.7 percent of students in grades 9 through 12 reported that they had “seriously considered suicide” in the past year.
As a parent or caregiver, the best way to help a young person who is struggling emotionally and experiencing thoughts of suicide is to start communicating. Here are five actionable steps from The National Institute of Mental Health for helping someone who is in emotional pain.
5 Steps to Provide Support to Someone in Emotional Pain
- Ask directly if they are thinking of committing suicide. Asking this tough question will start the conversation, and studies show that it doesn’t increase the risk for suicide attempts or ideations.
- Keep them safe by removing any access to items such as guns, pills or weapons.
- Be supportive by listening to them. Talking to someone about his or her thoughts and feelings can help reduce his or her suicidal thoughts.
- Gather a support network. Connect with a mental health professional or treatment program that can provide professional resources and support.
- Stay connected during and after any treatment. Providing ongoing support and building a reliable team around the individual can help them achieve and maintain a healthy life.
By starting with communication and these steps, you can help a person in need feel better. It’s also important to be educated about the risk factors and warning signs to look for in teens. Learn more about our residential treatment program.
If you know a youth struggling with depression or experiencing thoughts of self-harm, contact Niles at (816) 895-4299, or immediately contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).