If a young person talks about suicide, take it seriously. Suicide is one of the three leading causes of death among young people. If a young person tells you s/he is thinking of killing her/himself and asks that you keep it a secret, This is a secret you cannot keep. Seek out supportive services immediately. (See Counseling.)

If you think your child or a youth you are working with maybe suicidal, don't be afraid to ask. Mentioning suicide will not give a young person the idea or push them over the edge. Talking about it can prevent suicide from happening. A suicidal person is not beyond help. The crisis period usually lasts a short time. With help a person can get better. If you think the situation is immediately life threatening call the police at 911 or Lifeline at (800)310-1160 or TDD: (585)275-2700.

Possible contributing factors to adolescent suicide include:

  • Stress from external sources
  • Fear of change and their ability to handle it
  • Problems dealing with physical and psychological changes
  • Loss of traditional support systems
  • Unrealistically high expectations
  • Unclear perception of death
  • Alcohol and/or other substances of abuse

These five questions are often asked to find out whether or not a person is considering suicide:

  • Has this person shown any of the following warning signs: seriously depressed, giving away prized possessions, doing poorly in school, talking about wanting to die, isolating themselves from family and friends, taking unnecessary risks, abusing drugs or alcohol or suddenly happy for no reason after being depressed for a long period?
  • Has this person ever threatened or attempted suicide before?
  • Does this person really believe he or she has a good reason to commit suicide?
  • Does this person have a plan to commit suicide?
  • Does this person have a way to put that plan into action right away?

Yes answers to any of these questions means you must be concerned and should seek professional help for your child. (See Counseling.) Don't try to handle it alone.

The first step in stopping a suicide is to have the person promise "If I feel like I'm going to hurt myself, I will call someone or a hotline first." The next step is to connect the person to needed professional supports and resources.

Call for crisis intervention services and information:

(800)310-1160 or TDD: (585)275-2700
Lifeline provides a variety of support and referral services including access to other agencies.

(Adapted from Lifeline's Adolescent Suicide-Outreach Program Card.)

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