Suicide Warning Signs in Children

Suicide is not a risk that solely lies with the adult population. Recent statistics show that suicide is currently the second leading cause of death in children and adolescents ages 10-34. As either a parent, educator, or individual who spends with children and adolescents, it is important to be aware and keep a look out of the signs that a child might be at risk for suicide.

There is a lot of information available for the potential signs that an individual may be at risk for suicide. Great resources include the CDC, NAMI, or AFSP, that can provide information regarding risk factors and warning signs for the general population. These signs include changes such as:

  • Changes in Behavior (impulsive, aggressive)
  • Isolating from others
  • Increased alcohol and drug use

What are the Warning signs of suicide in a child?

Children and Adolescents can show the same potential signs, but it can look very different or be seen in less direct ways than an it would in an adult. These signs and changes in behavior can be rooted in many different factors, but they should all be taken very seriously and explored deeper.

Risk 1: Talking about wanting to die or be gone

Look out for conversations regarding wanting to die. This can be manifested either with directly talking about death, but can also be seen in saying phrases like “I want to be disappear”, or “I wonder if anyone would notice if I was gone.” These types of verbalization can show a deeper sense of loneliness or despair in a child’s inner world.

Risk 2: Changes in Mood or Affect

Is your typically happy child suddenly more sad or withdrawn? Changes in mood or drastic mood swings can be another potential suicide warning side. Look out for increased sadness, lack of interest in typically enjoyable activities, or isolation from family and friends.

Risk 3: Changes in Behavior

Many times a child’s inner emotions can be seen in their behavior. Changes in behavior can look like increased aggression towards self or others, spending more time alone or an increase in irritability.

Risk 4: Engaging in Self-Harming behaviors

While self-harm does not always indicate suicidal intentions, any form of self-harm in your child should be taken seriously.

How do I address these signs of Suicide?

Take these signs seriously. If your child is is showing any of these signs, talk with them and listen to what they are experiencing. Be supportive and understanding of what your child is feeling.

Encourage your child by reminding them how loved they are or how much they would be missed if they were gone.

Make your home environment as safe as possible. If your child is displaying any signs, ensure that they do not have access to weapons, or sharp objects around the house. Lock up the medications. Lock up any weapons in your home. Remove sharp objects.

Seek out professional help. Professionals, can help aid your child to cope and work through their feelings and help provide safer coping mechanisms when they are overwhelmed.

September is National Suicidal Prevention month. If you or someone you know is in an emergency, call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or call 911 immediately.

In Need of Services? Request an appointment with one of our clinicians at Brighter Hope Wellness Center.

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