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The loss of a child can be devastating, even more so if the loss is self-induced; that is, by suicide. The loss of potential; the guilt a parent feels; the sheer magnitude of what may have been, but for a bit of understanding and effort on the part of a parent or guardian; may never be overcome. To help you help a child at risk, here are some things you can do to prevent youth suicide.
First of course, you must recognize the signs that your child it at risk, which we have outlined in a previous post, Youth Suicide – Recognizing the Signs of At-Risk Youth. Being conscious of high-stress situations, as well as at-risk behaviours are the two key elements in preventing your child from doing permanent damage to him or herself.
While there are many other steps you might take to prevent at-risk youth from following through on their suicidal tendencies, here are a few things to consider that will help you if you think your child may be considering suicide:
How to prevent youth suicide
- Listen to your child – While this should go without saying, it needs to be mentioned. Young people rarely do serious damage to themselves without first indicating their intention to do so.
- Pay attention to changes in behavior – Just as with listening, at-risk youth will commonly display their intentions with changes in behaviour. Be on the lookout for risky behaviours and personality changes.
- Talk to your child – Once you perceive, either through conversation or risky behaviours that your child may be at risk, talking about it with them can only help.
- Visit school – Fairly regularly, to ensure that she/he is in a supportive environment. If not, take action.
- Be a partner in her life – Being a disciplinarian is one thing, being a partner who shares her life is quite another, and quite positive.
- Seek counselling – Once you’ve deduced that your child is at risk, seek counselling from a professional.
- Educate yourself and your spouse or partner – Learn the signs of self-destructive behaviour in young people, as well as the stressful situations that can escalate such behaviour.
- Do not fear a confrontation – After all, if your child is already contemplating doing serious damage to herself, the fact that you care for her can only be a positive step. If necessary, use your power as a parent to institutionalize her to prevent her killing herself.
When combined with a caring attitude, the behaviors listed will reduce the risk that a young person may try to commit suicide. As adults, it is our responsibility to be aware of the situations and signs that put children at risk of hurting themselves, and we must take this responsibility seriously.
Do you know a young person you believe is at-risk of youth suicide? Contact us today for a consultation.