A common mistake parents make when dealing with a suicidal teen is thinking that if they mention suicide they will be planting the idea in their teen’s brain. This is simply not accurate. In fact, by mentioning your fears, you are showing your teen that you take their actions and their life seriously. Remember, most people who are suicidal do not really want to die- they want to put an end to the suffering they are experiencing. When given an opportunity to be helped through that suffering, or when some of that suffering is alleviated by knowing they aren’t alone, this can help reduce the desire to end the pain by more drastic means.
As you have probably heard before, talking to your teen about suicide is one of the most important things you can do in helping to prevent a suicide attempt. Many times parents are unsure of what to say and instead say nothing. Here are some suggestions of how you can open the channels of communication and help your teen open up.First, tell your teen you care; no matter the state of your relationship, just hearing this can go a long way. Tell your teen you are there if needed, and are willing to listen without judging. NAMI estimates that around 80% of all teens who attempt suicide give some sort of verbal or nonverbal warning beforehand, so be sure to take whatever your teen says completely seriously.