For many of us, it’s impossible to imagine what it must be like to want to end your life, because we put so much energy and time into doing everything we can to stay alive. This can make it hard to even think, let alone talk about the topic with someone we know.
It doubles down on this well-established idea that we are talking about suicide It promotes the act in some way, or at least it might encourage someone to kill themselves. It’s important to know that this is not the case, and if anything, letting someone share how they feel can be an effective antidote.
Ian Russell, father Molly Russell Who committed suicide in 2017, said he wished he had talked to his daughter about suicide. After the result of the investigation into her death, Urging other parents to speak directly to their children If they have concerns about Psychological health.
This may seem like a daunting challenge, as many parents – myself included – can find it difficult to get anything more than the occasional monosyllabic response from our offspring. But as Ian Russell suggests, it is crucial to bridge the generational gap and keep the lines of communication open.
There is no magic way to do this as relationships vary, but there are a few things to consider.
Some parents and children may find it easier to talk about thoughts of suicide in the third person. So instead of asking your son or daughter if they’ve ever considered suicide, it can be framed as: “Have you heard of others who have thought about suicide?” Or: “What would you do if a close friend shared suicidal thoughts with you?”
Finding the right time and place can make all the difference, as can avoiding bringing something big into the conversation. See if you can make it more of a casual conversation, perhaps related to the news or something you know that piques their interest. Some of the best conversations I had with my kids were when they were learning to drive, and they hung out with me in the car for an hour with an activity to distract them. You will know what your safe place is and when you think a more relaxed discussion is possible.
A lot of things may seem obvious to us as we get older, but it is worth remembering and verifying what information a young person has about mental health and suicide. for Molly Russell And thousands of teens like her, the internet is their favorite place to go when they’re curious. While there are some amazing websites and organizations that can offer support, it won’t take long to get to less useful sites, as Molly Russell found very easily.
Therefore, it is important not to assume that the young person has all the facts, and even if they do, check that they have an opportunity to think or speak through their interpretation of what they have found about mental health and suicide.
The perception of time changes with age, so it is also helpful to remember how compact time is when you are young, and the urgency of everything. This can add to the feeling of crisis, making it even more important as a parent to give your time to listen and be present. Knowing things can change over time is something that takes years and experience to fully understand in a world that thrives on instant reaction.
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The risk of suicide increases with age From 0.4 per 100,000 for those aged 10-14, to 6.4 per 100,000 for those aged 15-19. As with conversations about drugs, it is important to adjust conversations about suicide and mental health with the child’s age. Even with young children, it is helpful to answer any questions they have directly, as trying to distract them can be misinterpreted as a lack of interest. Let them know they can trust you when they want to talk about things like bullying or other kids who have early signs of problems with their mental health.
As teenagers, they are more likely to encounter peers with mental health issues, including thoughts of suicide. Encouraging them to share their thoughts and feelings without judgment can be difficult because by instinct, we want to protect our children and those who care for them.
The only thing we can do is realize that treating youth suicide as a taboo topic hasn’t stopped it. Ignoring suicide will not reduce its occurrenceAnd all the evidence we have suggests that talking about these disturbing feelings and thoughts can go a long way to alleviating them — and it can save lives.
If you are experiencing feelings of distress and isolation, or you are struggling to cope, Samaritans offer support; You can talk to someone for free over the phone and, with confidence, at 116123 (UK & ROI), email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the Samaritans website to find details of your nearest branch.
If you are a resident of the USA, and you or someone you know is currently in need of mental health assistance, call the National Suicide Prevention Helpline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). The Helpline is a free and confidential crisis hotline available to everyone 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
If you are in another country, you can go to www.befrienders.org To find a helpline near you.
Ian Hamilton is Senior Lecturer in Addiction and Mental Health at York University
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