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For Parents

For Parents of Teen Suicide Attempters

Individuals who attempt suicide are 50% more likely to complete suicide in the future! If your teen has attempted suicide, you need to take action to support the safety of your child:

  1. Set up a support network for your teen that includes direct access to a psychiatrist and psychologist or other mental health professional (counselor). Make sure that these professionals have experience dealing with adolescents. This is critical! Not all mental health professionals know about the unique emotional needs of teens.
  2. Set Boundaries: Understand that it is completely normal for you as a parent to feel like you are “walking on eggshells” around your teen after the attempt. You will be afraid to set limits on their activities and will continually fear for their safety. This is normal. Know that it’s not only OK to set limits on your teen’s activities (i.e., what time they come home at night, friends they hangout with, etc), but it’s absolutely necessary for you to set appropriate boundaries depending on their age. This is a tough way of showing that you care and that you love them. It will make them feel safer even if they fight your attempts. If you don’t know how to set appropriate boundaries, consult a mental health professional yourself.
  3. Teen medications: If your teen has been prescribed medication to help with depression, bi-polar disease or other mental health illness, PAY ATTENTION. Not all medications are approved for use on teens. Know which ones are and which ones are not approved and make an informed decision! Talk with your teen’s psychiatrist about the pros and cons of the medication. Also know that it can take up to two years to find the medication that will help your teen manage their mental health illness. If there is no improvement in your teen’s mood after 4-6 weeks, have your teen tell his/her doctor. It’s important for the teen to communicate how they are feeling with the doctor and whether or not there has been any improvement.

Take care of yourself: This is a very stressful time for you. Establish your own support network of mental health professionals, friends and colleagues who you can confide in. You need to be able to process your own thoughts and emotions about your teen’s suicide attempt. This is just as important as getting help for your son or daughter.

READ:  After a Suicide Attempt

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