A Message to Parents…

All teens are at risk.  

The very thought that a teenager might wish to end his or her own life is nearly incomprehensible. Although we, as adults, view their lives as just beginning and full of potential, teens often feel very isolated and unable to cope with the rapid changes that occur during this time. Everybody recognizes the teen years as difficult and volatile (for parents as well as for teens). We have learned, through our own personal tragedies, that all teens are at risk. Many of those who completed suicide showed no typical warning signs, had made no previous attempts and did not talk to anyone about their suicide plans. Young people in this much pain are very likely to carry on normal lives until the moment of their shocking, fatal act. Parents must operate under the premise that all teens are at risk of suicide – even yours. Depression is a disease with a specific pathology. Chemicals in the brain are depleted when the person is severely depressed. A certain chemical, found in the orbital cortex of the brain (where reason is controlled) is at extremely low levels or completely gone in autopsies of suicide victims.¹ When these chemical levels are low due to depression, and judgment may be further impaired by drugs or alcohol, and with easy accessibility to guns, pills, etc., anybody can fall into the abyss and make the wrong decision to end his or her own life. It may be the person you least suspect … and often is.     If Somebody Hands You A Card: See our page

What You Can Do:

  • Talk to your child about suicide. Ask if he or she has had suicidal thoughts.*
  • Remove guns from your home and keep prescriptions under lock and key.
  • Don’t put more pressure on your already overstressed teen.
  • Create a Contract for Life with your child.
  • Encourage your children and their friends to carry and to use Yellow Ribbon Cards.
  • Don’t hesitate to seek professional help. Many depression-related problems are successfully treatable.
* “Talking about suicide is the first step in trying to avoid it. It’s the act which may break through the terrible isolation that a kid who is feeling so much pain and so desperate would be experiencing.- Dr. David Bergman, author Kids on the Brink: Understanding the Teen Suicide Epidemic

Teens and Depression:

Depression can cloud an individual’s thinking, making it more difficult to evaluate life stressors and to think of alternative solutions to problems. Pay attention to talk about suicide. Ask direct questions and don’t be afraid of frank discussions. Silence is deadly. Do NOT take it all on yourself. Do NOT take responsibility for making your friend or family member well. You are not a therapist. Do NOT agree to keep your friend’s confidence. It’s not betrayal, it’s help. Think how you would feel if you kept the secret and lost a friend. Be supportive. Let your loved one know that you care and should not feel ashamed of their condition; it is not their fault. Stand by your friend or family member through the recovery period … treatment will be successful in time.

Online Resources:

Warning Signs and Steps to Helping a Suicidal Teenager: This website provides a list of warning signs and risk factors that may contribute to teen suicide.For more information, click on the link above.

How to Help a Child: This website provides parents with a list of warning signs that their children might need professional help for a mental illness as well as additional resources. For more information, click on the link above.

Personal Stories About Depression: Living with mental illness can be difficult. It can be helpful to know that you are not alone in this fight. This website offers personal stories about living with mental illness and the different struggles people have overcome.For more information, click on the link above.