Why do I need to watch for suicide?

·         Suicide is the second leading cause of death for those ages 15 to 24 in the U.S.

·         For each suicide death, family and close friends are at higher risk for suicide themselves.

·         If you are concerned, don't wait to talk to your child.

·         Knowing the risk factors and warning signs helps you help your child with concerns about himself or another student.

·         Asking directly about suicide tells your child it's ok to talk about it with you.

·         Take all suicidal thoughts, threats and behaviors seriously.

·         Most suicidal people want to end severe emotional pain.

·         Emotional pain makes it hard to think clearly, consider options or remember reasons for living.

​​Risk factors

Prior suicide attempt

·         ​​This is the strongest predictor of future attempts.

Mental illness

·         ​​1 in 5 teens will have depression at some point.

·         Many teens with depression are undiagnosed.

·         Childhood depression often continues into adulthood, especially if left untreated

Interpersonal conflict

·         ​​Bullying: In-person or cyberbullying

·         Trauma: Examples includes injury, assault, legal trouble, physical, sexual, or emotional abuse.

·         Relationship breakups: Impulsivity combined with a personal inability to think through consequences before acting can increase the risk for suicide following a breakup.

·         Sexting: Tell your children to never take images they don't want classmates, family or future employers to see. Forwarding a sexual picture of a minor is a crime.

·         Recent loss: Examples include moving, changing schools, divorce, or death of a loved one.

·         Questioning sexual orientation

Warning signs

Call 911 if:

·         ​​​A suicide attempt has been made

·         A weapon is present

·         The person is out of control

·         ​​Makes a serious threat to kill himself or herself such as:

·         ​"I wish I were dead."

·         "If ...... doesn't happen, I'll kill myself."

·         "What's the point of living?"

·         ​Looks for a way to carry out a suicide plan

·         Talks about death or suicide in text messages, on social media sites or in poems/music

·         Gives away possessions

·         ​​​Hopelessness

·         Rage, anger or seeking revenge

·         Reckless or risky behavior

·         Expressions of feeling trapped, like there's no way out

·         Alcohol or drug use

·         Withdrawal from family or friends

·         Anxiety, agitation or sleep irregularity

·         Dramatic mood changes

·         Discussions of no reason for living or no sense of purpose


What you can do right now:

·         ​​Know suicide risk factors and warning signs.

·         Share this website with your child.

·         Have a conversation about what your child should do if he is concerned about himself or a friend,

·         Promote skills in problem-solving and conflict resolution.

·         Maintain a supportive and involved relationship with your child.

·         Encourage participation in sports, activities at school/place of worship or volunteering.

·         Help your teen develop strong communication skills.

·         Get medical care for depression and substance use.

·         Don't leave a depressed or suicidal teen home alone.

·         Most suicides occur in the early afternoon/evening in the teen's home.

Remove these items or secure in your home:

Prescription and over-the-counter medications

·         Keep medications, including vitamins with iron, where your kids or their friends cannot access.

·         Don't keep lethal doses of medication on hand. A pharmacist can advise you on safe quantities.

·         Safely discard unused medications.


Alcohol and drugs

  • Talk to your kids about substance use as a major risk factor for suicide.
  • If your teen has a pattern of substance use, seek mental health care.
  • Substance use could be an attempt to self-medicate a mental illness.
  • Substance use makes youth more likely to choose lethal means, such as guns. Remove firearms from your home.


  •  ​Lock up potentially harmful common household products, including household cleaners, products containing alcohol (such as mouthwash, hand sanitizer, etc.), and cosmetics (such as nail polish remover, perfumeperfume, etc.). 


·         Remove firearms from your home. More than half of all suicide deaths result from a gunshot wound.

Talking to your kids

How to start a conversation after a relationship breakup:

·         ​​​What did you notice about yourself in the relationship?

·         What is positive? What would you like to change?

·         Were there patterns or issues that brought you into this relationship or caused it to end?

·         What are your priorities and preferences in life?

·         Who are you on your own and how do you want to live your life?

How to start a conversation about suicide:

·         ​​"I have been feeling concerned about you lately."

·         "Lately, I've noticed some differences in you. How are you doing?"

·         "What happened? It might help to talk about it."

Questions you can ask:

·         ​​​"When did you begin feeling like this?"

·         "Did something happen that made you start feeling this way?"

·         "How can I support you right now?"

·         "Could you tell me more about that?"

What to say that can help:

·         ​​​"You are not alone – I'm here for you."

·         "I may not understand exactly how you feel, but I love you and want to help."

·         "I think you feel there is no way out. Let's talk about some options."

Credits & Reference:
Oakland County Health Division

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In this video created by Mayo Clinic, teens describe common signs that a teen is considering suicide and provide encouragement for communicating directly and immediately for support and safety. It also Includes suggestions for what to say to a teen who may be at risk for suicide and ways to keep them safe. Things can get better.