Suicide is the act of taking one's own life. It is one of the most common causes of death in children from ages 10 to 19. Girls attempt suicide more often than boys do. Girls are more likely to try to kill themselves by overdosing on drugs or cutting their wrists. Boys are much more likely to actually kill themselves. Boys most often try to kill themselves using guns, hanging, or jumping.
Guns are the most common and fastest-growing method of suicide in the US. Having a gun in the house increases the risk that a young person will commit suicide. An upset child or teen may impulsively use a firearm. Using a gun increases the chances that a suicide attempt will be fatal. Other methods are more likely to allow time for second thoughts and getting medical help.
Children are more likely to think of suicide if they suffer from depression, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, or bipolar disorder, or if they abuse alcohol or drugs. Stressful events such as getting into trouble at school or with police can trigger thoughts of suicide. Children and teens are more likely to kill themselves on impulse than adults are. Your child is at higher risk for committing suicide if he:
Signs that your child is depressed and thinking of suicide may include:
If you notice feelings or actions that are unusual, such as losing interest in things, getting very depressed, or talking about suicide, call a mental health professional. Someone who is thinking of suicide can be successfully treated with medicine, therapy, or both.
Several types of medicines can help. Your child’s healthcare provider will work with you to select the best medicine. Your child may need to take more than one type of medicine.
Seeing a mental health therapist is helpful.
If your child has attempted suicide call 911 right away.
Ask your child if he or she is thinking about suicide. You will not cause suicide by talking about it. You show that you care when you ask. If he or she talks about death or mentions suicide, do not get mad or pass judgment. Get professional help. Reassure your child that you love him or her. Remind children that no matter how awful problems seem, they can be worked out, and that you are willing to help.
Often a child gives clues that he or she is going to commit suicide. Most children do NOT hurt themselves or fake suicide just to get attention. Talking about suicide is a cry for help. If your child ever tells you he or she is planning to commit suicide, take it seriously.
If you think your child is suicidal, remove or lock up weapons in your home, such as guns, pills, and poisons. Call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-SUICIDE or get emergency care.
Your child may need to be treated until the risk of committing suicide has passed. Many of those who attempt suicide try it again within the next year.
For more information, contact: