Tag: hotline

What to Do If Your Teen Is Talking About Suicide

Suicide is a public health issue that concerns all of us. It is one of the reasons that many pediatricians get involved in pushing for stronger gun safety laws and teach parents to store any guns that they have locked, unloaded, with the ammunition locked elsewhere.

As you will learn, “reducing access to lethal means” is one of the first things you should do if your child is talking about suicide.

Is Your Child Talking About Suicide?

Although there are many warning signs of suicide, one is that a child or teen might simply starts talking about wanting to die.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), they might also:

  • Talk about feeling empty, hopeless, or having no reason to live
  • Talk about great guilt or shame
  • Talk about feeling trapped or feeling that there are no solutions
  • Talk about feeling unbearable pain, both physical or emotional
  • Talk about being a burden to others
  • Talk or think about death often

And it is important to keep in mind that instead of actually ‘talking’ about any of this with you, a parent, your child might instead talk about it with their friends, text someone, or post messages on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, or inside a chat room of one of the games they play.

What to Do If Your Child Is Talking About Suicide

So what do you do if your child is talking about suicide?

Get help as soon as possible.

“Asking someone about suicide is not harmful. There is a common myth that asking someone about suicide can put the idea into their head. This is not true. Several studies examining this concern have demonstrated that asking people about suicidal thoughts and behavior does not induce or increase such thoughts and experiences. In fact, asking someone directly, “Are you thinking of killing yourself,” can be the best way to identify someone at risk for suicide.”

Suicide in America: Frequently Asked Questions

While getting help might start with a call to your pediatrician, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is always available at 1–800–273–TALK (8255). Call immediately to figure out the best way to help your child, before they have a chance to hurt themselves.

Let your kids know that there are hotlines to call if they ever need to talk to someone when they are feeling anxious or depressed.

And know that help is available.

Most importantly, don’t ignore or dismiss your child’s talk because you don’t believe them.

Talking to Your Kids About Suicide

What would your kids do if a friend texted them and said they were thinking of killing themselves? Would they come tell you?

What if their friend told them to keep it a secret?

What if they were thinking about suicide?

Since we know that talking about suicide is not harmful, is there any good reason to not talk to your kids about what to do in these situations?

Have you?

Your kids should know that they can always come talk to you and:

  • how to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1–800–273–TALK (8255), which is available 24 hours a day for anyone who needs help
  • how to contact the crisis text line – text HOME to 741741, and text with a trained Crisis Counselor 24 hours a day
  • what to do when a friend is talking about suicide
  • about the Lean On Me anonymous peer support via text network
  • about the Trevor Project, the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth, including a hotline, chat and text help service
  • about the Disaster Distress Helpline for “24/7, 365-day-a-year crisis counseling and support to people experiencing emotional distress related to natural or human-caused disasters.” Anyone can call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 to connect with a trained crisis counselor.
  • how to report suicidal content on Facebook
  • how to report suicidal content on Twitter
  • how to report suicidal content on Instagram (tap “…” below the post and then tap “Report Inappropriate,” select “This Photo Puts People At Risk > Self-Harm”)
  • how to report suicidal content on YouTube (click “More” and then highlight and click “Report” in the drop-down menu. Click “Harmful dangerous acts,” then “Suicide or self-injury” to trigger a review)

Again, talk to your kids so that they know not to ignore any warning signs, as one day, they might be in a position to save one of their friends.

What to Know About Talking to Your Kids About Suicide

Talking and asking about suicide is a good first step in getting someone who might hurt themselves help.

More on Talking to Your Kids About Suicide

Teen Depression Screening

It is estimated that only about half of teens with depression get diagnosed and then, only about half of them get treated.

We should do better.

And we can, if we start routinely screening all teens for depression.

Teen Depression Screening

The idea of having pediatricians screen for depression isn’t new.

And it hasn’t always been just about screening kids for depression.

In 2010, the American Academy of Pediatrics began to recommend that pediatricians screen new mothers for postpartum depression using the Edinburgh Postpartum Depression Scale or a simpler 2-question screen for depression.

“The primary care pediatrician, by virtue of having a longitudinal relationship with families, has a unique opportunity to identify maternal depression and help prevent untoward developmental and mental health outcomes for the infant and family.”

AAP on Incorporating Recognition and Management of Perinatal and Postpartum Depression Into Pediatric Practice

Next, in 2014, the AAP began to recommend that adolescent depression screening begin routinely at 11 years of age. This recommendation was added to the 2015 Recommendations for Preventive Pediatric Health Care, a policy statement that was published by the AAP Committee on Practice and Ambulatory Medicine and the Bright Futures Periodicity Schedule Workgroup.

They also continued to recommend screening for maternal depression at 1-, 2-, 4-, and 6-month visits.

A score of 3 or higher on the PHQ-2 could be a sign that your child is depressed.
A score of 3 or higher on the PHQ-2 could be a sign that someone is depressed and needs further evaluation.

The latest recommendation is that all “adolescent patients ages 12 years and older should be screened annually for depression (MDD or depressive disorders) with a formal self-report screening tool either on paper or electronically (universal screening).”

Other depression screening tools are also available, including the:

In addition to yearly depression screening, the latest guidelines also talk about the need to establish treatment plans and safety plans for teens who are depressed.

Signs and Symptoms of Teen Depression

Let your kids know that there are hotlines to call if they ever need to talk to someone when they are feeling anxious or depressed.

Do you think your teen is depressed?

Have they been sad or angry on most days?

Does it seem like they don’t care about their usual activities anymore, aren’t sleeping well, are always tired, or have had a big change in their weight recently?

Are they doing poorly at school, seem extra sensitive to criticism, or have a lot of unexplained aches and pains?

Has your teen had thoughts of dying or suicide?

Call your pediatrician if you think that your teen is depression, or seek more immediate help if you think that your teen might hurt themselves.

Does your teen know how to TXT 4 HELP?
Does your teen know how to TXT 4 HELP?

Unfortunately, signs and symptoms of depression aren’t always easy to recognize in teens.

Hopefully, with universal depression screening, more teens will get diagnosed as early as possible.

What to Know About Depression Screening

It is recommended that pediatricians screen all teens for depression each and every year.

More on Depression Screening