Learn the warning signs of youth who might be considering suicide
Signs to be aware of:
- Sad, hopeless, tearful, crying
- Irritable, angry, hostile
- Loss of interest, apathy, withdrawn
- Fatigue or lack of energy
- Feeling worthless or guilty
- Feeling restless or agitated
- Changes in eating, sleeping, hygiene
Encouraging kids to open up:
- Be loving and non-judgmental
- Share specific concerns and why they worry you
- Understand that they may be reluctant to open up about how they’re feeling
If your child says nothing is wrong but has no explanation for depressed behavior—trust your instincts.
How to help:
- Offer support; be gentle but persistent
- Listen without lecturing
- Validate their feelings, remember that we all struggle sometimes.
If you think your child might be suicidal, ask directly: “Are you thinking about suicide?”
If they answer, “yes:”
- Ask about a plan
- Listen; threats about suicide must be taken seriously
- Be non-judgemental and offer empathy
- Do not leave them alone
- Connect them with professional help
- Continuously follow up
- Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline with them, 1-800-273-8255
Click here to download our Warning Signs wallet card for parents
Create a Safety Plan
Safety planning can help facilitate a conversation between you and your child.
Safety planning is a preventative strategy for managing individual suicide risk and mental health crises. It is something we can do for ourselves or collaboratively with a loved one or mental health/ healthcare professional. Using basic strategies and thinking about and writing out a plan, we’re working to recognize existing protective factors and reduce risk factors during a crisis.
Read our Safety Plan guide and download a pdf of a safety plan to do for yourself, your child, or someone you love.
Training and Presentations for Parents
Suicide Safety at Home
There are steps we can all take to make our homes safer for our loved ones. This session will discuss steps and plans that we can all take to keep youth and those living with suicidal thoughts safe at home. Particular attention will be paid to firearm safety resources.
This is a two-day workshop for learning suicide intervention skills. The focus is on learning to identify suicide risks and developing a plan with the person at risk to stay safe for now. Participants are taught to identify possible warning signs for suicide including changes in behavior such as isolation, withdrawal, discussing suicide, increase in substance use, aggressiveness, and feelings of hopelessness or pain. Participants are then taught to identify a plan that will keep the person safe which often includes helping the person seek longer-term support.
C.A.L.M. (Counseling Access to Lethal Means)
90-120 minute training for parents or counselors that focuses on learning the skills necessary to restrict access to lethal means like firearms and abusive substances like pain medications, opioids, and over-the-counter medications. The training includes case studies and a safety plan for these substances.
Suicide Talk is a 2-hour suicide awareness presentation that helps participants to understand the issue of suicide and how they can help prevent it in their communities. The session is appropriate for
anyone over the age of 15 who wants to learn more and help make a difference.